The Vodacom Blue Bulls outscored the iCollege Pumas six tries to four as they registered a crucial 39-29 win over their Nelspruit opponents in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.
The visitors made their presence known early on as former FNB Maties flyhalf Chris Smith slotted a penalty goal in the 7th minute but it was the men in light blue who were galvanized into action as they responded with two tries in the 9th and 12th minute respectively.
Captain and no.8 Hanro Liebenberg showed great strength to power through the attention of the Pumas’ defence as he stretched out to score the opening try with wing Jade Stiglingh receiving the final pass after several phases to cross the whitewash three minutes later.
The home team had to pull in their defensive efforts moments later as outside centre Johnny Kotze was yellow carded and the team’s commitment needs to be commended as they only leaked their first try as Kotze was preparing to return to the field with flank Marnus Schoeman scoring a converted try in the 26th minute after prop Dayan van der Westhuizen crossed the chalk moments earlier for the Blue Bulls.
The men from Nelspruit used their dominant lineout drive once more as hooker Marko Janse van Rensburg scored a converted try but his efforts were undone by Stiglingh who collected a floating pass to score and wrapped up the bonus point with five minutes left of the first half.
The Blue Bulls consolidated their lead in the dying minutes of the opening half as Libbok brought the curtain down with a penalty goal to hand his charges a 27-17 lead at the break.
The first ten minutes after the match resumed proved to be a dull affair as neither team could break the deadlock before Springbok scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl ensured his team were on the front foot as he collected a pass from hooker Jaco Visagie as the Blue Bulls found themselves in space courtesy of a creative lineout move.
The Pumas may have been down but they certainly were not out as they continued to attack from all areas of the field and their intent paid dividends as outside centre Neil Maritz exploited the overlap to score a converted try.
The final minutes of the match was a points scoring frenzy with both teams scoring unconverted tries. Replacement flank Jano Venter did what he does best as his burst through an attempted tackle to score the Blue Bulls’ sixth try while it was the Pumas’ turn to have the final say as wing Morné Joubert raced down the right hand touch line to score near the posts.
Smith’s missed conversion on the stroke of full-time proved to be the final moment of the match as the Blue Bulls walked away with a 39-29 win and five log points in what was their penultimate Currie Cup match of the season.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Hanro Liebenberg, Jade Stiglingh (2), Dayan van der Westhuizen, Ivan van Zyl, Jano Venter; Conversions: Manie Libbok (3); Penalty: Libbok.
iCollege Pumas – Tries: Marnus Schoeman, Marko Janse van Rensburg, Neil Maritz, Morné Joubert; Conversions: Chris Smith (3); Penalty: Smith.