Potgieter gives Bulls vital win
The Vodacom Blue Bulls returned to winning ways at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday night, as flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter scored 27 points to see his side home 32-18.
It ended a two-game losing streak for the defending Absa Currie Cup champions and condemned the Lions to their third straight loss in the competition.
But it must be said, while these Lions aren’t the winning breed just yet, the passion and commitment they are showing in attack under coach John Mitchell is to be commended.
In the end the Bulls’ pressure game was the difference, as Potgieter slotted every kick given to him, and the champs built an innings of points that would eventually see them home.
Still, the Bulls, after close losses to the Sharks (away) and Cheetahs (home), will be happy that they closed this one out, even though they had to work hard for the victory against a Lions side showing an upward curve.
Potgieter kicked six penalties, including a 57-metre bomb on the stroke of half time which gave his side the lead at the break, two conversions and scored a try as he led his teammates home with four vital log points from the game.
But while Boks Francois Hougaard, Dewald Potgieter and Flip van der Merwe made a vital difference in the team, the cameo of Chiliboy Ralepelle was exceptional as the Bulls bench stepped up the pace at the right time.
The Lions will be proud of the performances of captain Franco van der Merwe, No 8 Warren Whiteley, fullback Jaco Taute and especially young flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who showed they are more than capable of holding their own against a champion side.
In fact, the defence was much better, especially in the opening 10 minutes as the Bulls gave them almost no ball to play with, and even though they went down 3-0 early, the Lions struck first as they flummoxed the Bulls defence out wide and Taute drew the last defender to put Deon van Rensburg away on the overlap.
It became the mantra for the home side to try and attack from anywhere, but it also would be their undoing as on several occasions they conceded penalties while on attack, which Potgieter slotted on cue.
After pulling back to 8-6, the Bulls worked the ball into the 22 and then exploited an extra man on the blindside, as winger John Mametsa slipped into the attacking line and with soft hands sent Gerhard van den Heever over for the try.
The Lions proved how deadly they can be on attack as they forced a turnover midfield, then attacked at will before Derrick Minnie slipped the perfect pass to Whiteley to score.
Despite the Bulls' best efforts, it seemed as if the Lions would close out the first half on top, but then the massive kick by Potgieter -- after the Lions played the ball from an offside position from a 22 dropout -- gave the visitors the half-time lead.
The Bulls powered ahead in the second half, with Potgieter slotting three unanswered penalties to take control of the game before Elton Jantjies could reply with a penalty of his own.
But it was game over just after the hour mark as first Fudge Mabeta, and then Ralepelle made good inroads up to the tryline, before Dewald Potgieter popped the perfect pass in the tackle to his namesake Jacques-Louis to score under the posts.
Both sides searched for further points in the final 20 minutes, but were not able to come close to a bonus point.
The win moves the Bulls into fourth spot while the Lions stay in sixth.
The Blue Bulls have a home game against the Leopards this weekend while the Lions travel to Durban to face the Sharks.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – tries: Gerhard van den Heever, Jacques-Louis Potgieter Conversions:Potgieter (2). Penalties: Potgieter (6)
Xerox Lions – Tries: Deon van Rensburg, Warren Whiteley.
Conversions: Elton Jantjies (1)
Penalties: Elton Jantjies (2)