Fullback Manie Libbok scored a hat-trick as the Vodacom Blue Bulls edged the Tafel Lager Griquas 44-42 (halftime 27-21) in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.
The Blue Bulls had little choice but to win after suffering four losses on the trot and made their intentions known as soon as the 3rd minute as flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff kicked a deft cross kick for wing Sibahle Maxwane to collect and score.
Despite the home team’s attacking flair they still had not shrugged off their leaky defence as the Griquas followed up with two quick tries.
Non-existent pillar defence by the Blue Bulls allowed wing Ederies Arendse to run in untouched while scrumhalf Christiaan Meyer intercepted a wayward pass and had the pace to run in a try from 60m out.
The Blue Bulls drew level moments later as prop Dayan van der Westhuizen stretched out to score near the posts which allowed Boshoff to add the extras.
Eventual Man of the Match, Libbok, exhibited the skills that made him a Junior Springbok as he sliced straight through the Griquas’ defence to score in the 25th minute.
The visitors had very little possession in the first half and had to put in tackle after tackle but this did not stop them from scoring a fantastic team try as Arendse bagged his second of the evening.
The Blue Bulls will take confidence out of their discipline as they played the match with a full contingent of players but the Griquas had to make do without hooker Wilmar Arnoldi as he was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle with the clock fast running out.
Boshoff made easy work of his resulting penalty attempt to bring the curtain down on the first half with his penalty goal giving the Blue Bulls a slender 27-21 lead at the break.
The Blue Bulls exited the tunnel like a team possessed with Libbok scoring tries in the 41st and 43rd minute.
Libbok was on hand to collect a sublime offload and jinxed his way past a few would-be defenders before turning on the gas to race in untouched while his third try came courtesy of running a spectacular line close to the whitewash to touchdown.
The Griquas slowly regrouped throughout the second half despite the initial scoring by the men of Pretoria. In fact, the visitors outscored their counterparts three tries to two as they pushed hard for the upset win.
Replacement lock Wandile Putuma crossed for the bonus point try in the 61st minute as the Griquas started applying the pressure on the home team.
The Blue Bulls did well to keep out the rampaging Griquas but it was not to last as wing AJ Coertzen made it a six point ball game with a superb try on the 70th minute mark.
The Blue Bulls opted to put the game out of reach via replacement flyhalf Tony Jantjies’ boot with a minute left on the clock but Coertzen would have none of it as he scored a consolation try and secured the Griquas’ second bonus point as the Blue Bulls won 44-42.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Sibahle Maxwane, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Manie Libbok (3); Cons: Marnitz Boshoff (5); Pens: Boshoff (2), Tony Jantjies.
Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Ederies Arendse (2), Christiaan Meyer, Wandile Putuma, AJ Coertzen (2); Cons: Andre Swarts (3), George Whitehead (3).