VRC series: Bulls cook, but concede four tries


When a rugby team’s back line scores six tries, there is very little to complain about.

When his forwards dominate on top of that, it’s going to be klopdisselboom.

This was underlined by the Bulls on Saturday afternoon in the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma when they beat Zebre 54-29 in the United Rugby Championship after leading 24-19 at half-time.

But while the win put to rest the disappointment of last week’s beating and lethargic performance against Ulster, the Bulls can’t be entirely satisfied with their defence.

Giving up four tries against one of the cash cows in the series is not good reading.

Still, there were many more positives than negatives, starting with the quick-footed ex-Puma Devon Williams, who is like a breath of fresh air at full-back.

Then David Kriel at center achieved a hat-trick of tries.

He is strong, fast, has good instincts, straightens the line and assigns short cuts to the goal line.

The flyhalf Johan Goosen is also playing with more and more confidence. He keeps his team on the front foot with his long tactical kicks, his set-piece work to the posts is top notch and he creates opportunities for his backline at full speed.

Scrum half Zak Burger can also feel satisfied with his performance.

Up front, the closing pair Ruan Nortjé (he was named player of the match) and Janko Swanepoel, the captain Marcell Coetzee and the restless hooker Akker van der Merwe were pure gold.

It remains one of the mysteries why Van der Merwe was overlooked by the Springbok selectors for so long after he played in three tests in 2018.

Together with the young eight-man Cameron Hanekom and Elrigh Louw and the bull props Wilco Louw and Simphiwe Matanzima, the Bulls laid the foundation.

Walk lightly, these Bulls can go very far this season.

Scorers: Bulls 54 (28): Tries: Akker van der Merwe (2), Sergeal Peterson, Devon Williams (2), David Kriel (3). Goal kicks: Johan Goosen (6), Chris Smith (1).

Zebre 29 (15): Tries: Iacopo Bianchi, Geronimo Prisciantelli, Scott Gregory, Lorenzo Pani. Goals: Prisciantelli (3). Penalty: Prisciantelli.