The Vodacom Blue Bulls defended like demons in the dying minutes of the second half to hold on for a 28-23 (halftime 21-10) win over the SWD Eagles in their Currie Cup qualifier at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday night.
The old saying – a game of two halves – perfectly summed up this match in which both teams scored three tries.
The Eagles played the final 20 minutes of the game in the Blue Bulls 22 and threatened to score constantly during the last minutes of the game but the defence of the Blue Bulls proved too strong to break down and after conceding three penalties on their try line the Eagles finally made a mistake as the final whistle blew.
In the end the Blue Bulls did enough in a dominant first half, which saw them take a 21-10 lead into halftime. They took an early 6-0 lead through two penalties by fly-half Tony Jantjies.
Even though it was the visitors who dominated the early exchanges, it was the Eagles who scored the first try of the match against the run of play with their first visit to the Blue Bulls 22.
Prop Layle Delo barged over the line from a ruck in the 25th minute after the hosts continually tested the defence of the visitors. Jacquin Jansen slotted the conversion to give the Eagles a narrow 7-6 lead.
The Blue Bulls hit back immediately after that with two tries in the space of two minutes. First lock Ruben van Heerden pulled his team back into the lead before fullback Divan Rossouw scored a fantastic try in the corner.
With the Blue Bulls on the attack, Rossouw kicked the ball down field and chased after it. Eagles captain and fly half Martin du Toit failed to control the ball and it bounced perfectly for Rossouw who collected and dived over for his team’s second try.
It gave the Blue Bulls a commanding 18-7 lead before Jantjies and Jansen slotted a penalty each as the visitors went into halftime with a 21-10 lead.
The Blue Bulls enjoyed 61percent possession in the first half while the Eagles were poor in conceding nine penalties in the first 40 minutes, however, they managed to turn things around in the second half.
The Eagles came back strongly in the second 40, scoring two tries in the first 10 minutes of the second half which took them within a point of the Blue Bulls score at 21-20.
However, they conceded a crucial try a few minutes later which all but sealed their fate as Alandre van Rooyen fell over from a rolling maul.
Eagles – Tries: Layle Delo, Lyndon Hartnick, Kurt Haupt. Conversion: Jacquin Jansen. Penalties: Jansen and Thomas Kean.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Ruben van Heerden, Divan Rossouw, Alandre van Rooyen. Conversions: Tony Jantjies and Tinus de Beer. Penalties: Jantjies (3).