Bulls hang on to beat Glasgow Warriors in tight URC clash at Loftus

11 May 2024 - 17:00
By Liam Del Carme
Bulls winger Kurt-Lee Arendse in action during the United Rugby Championship (URC) match against Glasgow Warriors at Loftus Versfeld.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images Bulls winger Kurt-Lee Arendse in action during the United Rugby Championship (URC) match against Glasgow Warriors at Loftus Versfeld.

For the first hour of this match, the Bulls delivered a statement of intent against Glasgow Warriors but then the visitors showed why they came into the clash top of the United Rugby Championship (URC) table.

The Bulls underlined their championship credentials in those lung busting 60 minutes but then the Warriors who turned to their bench early, got a second wind scoring three tries in eight minutes to put the game, that seemed well lost, back in the balance.

A Chris Smith penalty in the 77th minute however put the issue beyond doubt as the Bulls held on for a 40-34 win.

In the build-up to this game Warriors head coach Franco Smith spoke of his desire to see his team put their brand on display and they certainly achieved that through their slick interplay and fighting spirit.

He wanted to see his team show growth and should they return here, they will be better equipped.

However, their rearguard action on Saturday came too late.

Earlier the Bulls swarmed all over the usually free-running Warriors and there were times they stampeded the visitors.

The 2pm kickoff in 27 degree heat at high altitude, served the Bulls well as they imposed on the tourists a match high in tempo, but crucially too, a blowtorch at the set pieces.

They put the squeeze on the visitors at the scrum, while Ruan Vermaak disrupted the visitors' line-out.

A near endless supply of quick ruck ball meant the Bulls' strike runners could run amok.

They brutalised the Warriors' first line of defence.

The Bulls however were far from one-dimensional gain-line bashers. There were times they turned on the charm.

Kurt-Lee Arendse's taunting, teasing run was the most bedazzling act of the first half. His jinking run from 22 to 22 kept the Warriors' defence guessing and set up a try for the ever-present Elrigh Louw just before the break.

Glasgow got on the board in the fifth minute when a simple line-out variation caught the Bulls napping.

Their feed went cheekily to the front where flanker Matt Fagerson took receipt, turned and advanced towards the try line with Canan Moodie as its sole guardian.

The powerful flank barged through the Bok's tackle to strike an early blow.

The Bulls however held territorial ascendancy and they had more of the ball. While Glasgow initially repelled them well, that task became more difficult when right-wing Kyle Steyn, infuriatingly to the game's traditionalists, was banished to the bin.

Steyn had barely sat down when the Bulls profited by also going blindside at the line-out for Akker van der Merwe to score in the 15th minute.

The Bulls didn't let up. Van der Merwe, Ruan Nortje and Louw kept putting the Warriors' first line of defence to the test.

Marco van Staden, as you'd expect, was a picture of industry.

When the Warriors had the ball in the first half they probed without conviction. Their attack lacked fluidity and they generally made lateral movement behind the gainline.

Often the ball carrier would not know which way to turn but that was perhaps in large part due to the Bulls uncompromising defence.

Warriors' scrumhalf George Horn's decision to kick for poles in the 29th minute was a tacit admission that the visitors were finding the going tough.

The Warriors turned to their bench early making three substitutes by the half-hour mark. It didn't necessarily stem the tide. Smith added a 33rd minute penalty while Louw's try came four minutes later.

The Bulls scored their bonus-point try in the 45th minute through Moodie, but the Warriors, though not enough, held something in reserve.

Scorers

Bulls (24) 40 — Tries: Akker van der Merwe, Cameron Hanekom, Elrigh Louw, Canan Moodie. Conversions: Smith (4). Penalties: Smith (4).

Glasgow (10) 34 — Tries Matt Fagerson, Kyle Steyn, Sebastian Cancelliere, Duncan Weir. Conversions: George Horn, Tom Jordan, Duncan Weir (2). Penalties: Horn, Weir.