NEWS ARTICLES
Blue Bulls into last four
Duane Heath
MWP
April 25, 2009
The Blue Bulls became the second team to qualify for the semifinals of the R1-million Vodacom Cup when they beat an undisciplined Western Province 36-16 (halftime 16-6) in an ill-tempered quarterfinal match played at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

The Bulls will now host the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal between the SWD Eagles and Platinum Leopards in George (kick-off 1700) in the first semifinal. At stake is a shot at the biggest monetary prize in South African rugby.

On Friday, the Sharks XV became the first team to advance to the last four when they beat the Golden Lions 20-7 in Durban. The KZN side will host the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal between Griquas and Free State (kick-off 1500) in the second semifinal.

The defending champions, who finished top of the North section of the competition, totally overpowered their arch-rivals, who reached the knockout stages after finishing a lowly fourth on the South log and who resembled a bunch of headless chickens for much of the afternoon.

The Bulls had the upper hand in the set phases and were more physical at the breakdowns, while their backs were incisive and stronger on attack that their opponents, who will look back on another failed Vodacom Cup campaign that started off brightly enough but yet again petered out when it mattered most.

WP opened the scoring in the second minute via a penalty from flyhalf Joe Pietersen, after scrumhalf Bolla Conradie was flattened illegally by John Mametsa from the kickoff.

The Bulls struck back immediately, however, levelling things through the boot of flyhalf Francois Brummer after Tonderai Chavhanga went offside at a ruck.

Brummer then put the Bulls 6-3 ahead in the eighth minute with his second penalty as the tetchy visitors continued to make unforced errors: Chavhanga took Rocco Jansen out in the air (but escaped a yellow card), Conradie made a hash of a quick 22-metre dropout and the forwards conceded two full-arm penalties as the Bulls’ pack began to show early ascendancy in the tight phases.

But just as the match seemed destined to become a scrappy kick-a-thon, the defending champions scored an excellent converted try through flanker Jacques Burger in the 19th minute to stamp their authority on the match with only a quarter gone.

Both teams suffered a blow on the half-hour mark when Mametsa received a yellow card for a second dangerous tackle on PJ Vermeulen -- an incident which saw the former SA Schools centre carried off the field on a stretcher.

WP then followed suit immediately afterwards when Pieter Myburgh was sin-binned by referee Stuart Berry for a late tackle on Brummer as the match threatened to boil over.

The running battle between Conradie and Mametsa eventually cost WP when the former Bok scrumhalf was sin-binned for a cynical kick in the face of the Bulls No 14 shortly after the break. But Brummer conspired to miss the penalty from bang in front and then another three minutes later, both of which could have put the Bulls out of sight.

Brummer eventually got his radar working in the 50th minute when he was gifted yet another penalty that came from WP indiscipline to make it 19-6.

Pietersen kept his side in the game with his third penalty shortly afterwards but captain Hanyani Shimange, who failed dismally to focus his troops on the task at hand, gave away yet another penalty through a dangerous tackle and Brummer was only too happy to keep the scoreboard ticking along.

WP then picked up another yellow card when wing Terry Jacobs took out a Bulls player in the air, before centre Marius Delport finally put the visitors out of their misery with a try after 64 minutes that ended the contest.

Chavhanga scored a good try in the closing stages, converted by Pietersen, to give WP a brief glimmer but it proved to be nothing more than a mirage as replacement Fudge Mabeta scored the Bulls’ third try with three minutes left to complete the rout.

Scorers:

Blue Bulls 36 – Tries: Jacques Burger, Marius Delport, Fudge Mabeta. Conversions: Francois Brummer (3). Penalties: Brummer (5).

WP 16 – Try: Tonderai Chavhanga. Conversion: Joe Pietersen. Penalties: Pietersen (3).

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