The Vodacom Bulls kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a solid 26-13 win over the Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
It is just the second time that the Vodacom Bulls have won this season in seven matches, but this result will go a long way towards boosting the confidence of a group of players that had come under fire since losing to the Sunwolves in Tokyo last weekend.
This Bulls team was strong on paper and was helped by the return of Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard, who had perhaps his best game of the season since returning from injury last year, reports Sport24.
Pollard kicked four penalties and two conversions for the Bulls for a total tally of 16 points, while he was also instrumental in the opening try of the game.
The match was scrappy at times, especially in the second half as the Bulls came under pressure and gave away a number of penalties, and in the end the try count read 2-1 in favour of the hosts.
The Bulls scored a try in each half through Travis Ismaiel and then Lood de Jager while the Jaguares scored their only five-pointer through Gonzalo Betranau.
The Bulls hit the front early in the contest when illegal scrummaging from the Jaguares led to Pollard firing over a penalty after four minutes.
However, the Jaguares levelled 15 minutes later when Iglesias was successful off the tee after a ruck offence in a slow start to the fixture.
The first try was much-needed and arrived on 26 minutes when a scrappy period of play saw wing Ismaiel gather the ball and finish strongly. With Pollard adding the two the Bulls had a 10-3 lead and would make it 13-3 before the break when Iglesias was carded for a ruck offence.
Pollard was the first scorer of the second-half too when he landed his third penalty of the game when Guido Petti was pinged on the ground.
The Jaguares gave themselves a lifeline in the game six minutes later as after deciding to snub three points, a period of sustained pressure led to scrumhalf Bertranou burrowing his way over the whitewash. Iglesias knocked over the conversion and suddenly it was 16-10.
Iglesias was on target again on 56 minutes to further reduce the arrears to three points but then came a crucial moment in the match eight minutes later, with Pollard’s kick through causing chaos before replacement wing Warrick Gelant set up lock De Jager for a converted try.
Pollard fittingly made sure of the victory on 70 minutes with a penalty from halfway as he and the Bulls enjoyed a much-needed win at home.
Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Lood de Jager
Conversions: Handre Pollard (2)
Penalties: Pollard (4)
Try: Gonzalo Bertranau
Conversion: Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias
Penalties: Gonzalez Iglesias (2)