Bulls stave off fightback but allow Glasgow two crucial points

rugby11 May 2024 14:07| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel

The Vodacom Bulls had to stave off a late fightback to down the table-topping Vodacom United Rugby Championship leaders Glasgow Warriors 40-31 in their highly contested match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

A late comeback that saw three second-half tries from Franco Smith’s side earned them a bonus point, but was not enough to haul in a 37-10 lead that the Bulls had amassed during the game.

However, it certainly gave the Loftus faithful a scare.

The news will be manna to the ears of Munster and Leinster in the title race, but the two bonus points that Glasgow picked up will be crucial as the competition heads into the final two rounds.

With only the Emirates Lions and Zebre Parma left on their fixture list, those two bonus points could easily secure the top spot for Smith’s side, especially if they beat the Lions next weekend.

The Bulls have a tougher run, facing Benetton next weekend and then the Sharks in Durban, and while they sit on 56 points and would fancy themselves against the Italian side, the top two will definitely be a bunfight and need a few other results to go their way if they are to get there.

It did also serve as another warning that it would take a lot to beat the Bulls at altitude, on a warm Autumn afternoon at Loftus Versfeld and if they do manage to get a home quarterfinal and semifinal, they may take some stopping.

There were enough chinks in the armour of the Bulls to allow for optimism for any team that would come to the highveld, especially with their ability to lose their heads in the second half.

Still, it is hard to critique a 40-point performance as the Bulls cruised to another win, even though it was tougher than they would have liked at the end.

There were a number of heroes, especially in the pack, where Ruan Vermaak had a field day in the set-pieces and easily earned the man of the match award, while Kurt-Lee Arendse’s forays in the backline are underlining every description of him as a Springbok and Loftus legend in the making.


Glasgow certainly were outplayed for large parts of the game but their second-half comeback will both raise questions on the Bulls side as well as give them confidence into the next few games.

Glasgow opened the scoring early on when Matt Fagerson took a lineout ball at the front and caught the Bulls unawares, scoring without a hand being laid upon him.

But the Bulls slowly ground their way back, first through Akker van der Merwe going over at the far side of the field in the corner after a lineout penalty was bludgeoned up to the line and then Cameron Hanekom forcing himself over from close range.

The moment of the match came through Arendse though, taking a turnover and showing the deadly pace, even though it looked more subtle than sublime from the stands, beating defenders by the handful as he crafted a swerve through the defence.

Having beaten the majority of the defence, his inside ball was bobbled by Elrigh Louw, who took it on the second take to score under the posts.

Two more penalties by Chris Smith saw the Bulls lead 37-10, and it seemed they were cruising to a 50-pointer.

But then in the 63rd minute, a turnover ball, a surge forward and a long, looping pass to Kyle Steyn unmarked on the wing saw him go over in the corner.

He was followed by Sebastian Cancielliere, who intercepted to make the comeback a reality and then a beauty of a 80 metre try to Duncan Weir brought them within seven and started the Bulls jitters.

But a late Chris Smith penalty, courtesy of a Nizaam Carr steal on the halfway line allowed the ball to sail through the posts and give the Bulls another win.

Yet Weir’s late penalty allowed them the second bonus point, and left disappointment at Loftus, and across the competition as a whole.

That late penalty may well prove crucial in the final standings and both sides walked off the field as if they knew it.


Vodacom Bulls - tries: Akker van der Merwe, Cameron Hanekom, Elrigh Louw, Canan Moodie. Conversions: Chris Smith (4). Penalties: Smith (3).

Glasgow Warriors - tries: Matt Fagerson, Kyle Steyn, Sebastian Cancillierre, Duncan Weir. Conversions: George Horne, Tom Jordan, Weir (2). Penalties: Horne, Weir.