Vodacom Bulls in rare, but deserved win in Johannesburg

The Vodacom Bulls produced a commanding performance to defeat the Emirates Lions 30-12 in Saturday’s trans-Jukskei Vodacom Super Rugby derby at Emirates Airline Park.

The visitors dominated the opening proceedings, pegging the hosts down in their half. It paid off, as Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard opened the Bulls’ account with a long-range penalty.

The Johannesburg siege continued as the Emirates Lions survived wave after wave of attacks until eventually No 8 Duane Vermeulen crashed over in the 29th minute.

The home side were forced to play with little ball from deep inside their half, but errors led to Pollard slotting two more penalties, giving the men from Pretoria a deserved 14-0 lead at half-time.

The Vodacom Bulls continued to turn pressure into points, earning a kickable penalty from a lineout drive and extending their lead out to 17-0.

But the home side would finally strike at their first real opportunity following a Vodacom Bulls’ handling error deep in their own half. They kept the ball amongst the forwards and eventually prop Carlu Sadie crossed the whitewash in the 47th minute.

Two more penalty attempts were slotted by Pollard – who produced a man-of-the-match performance – leaving the Joburg men with much work to do.

But again they capitalised on what little ball they had to work with. Replacement scrumhalf Ross Cronje made a sniping break around the ruck to put prop Dylan Smith under the poles with an offload. With the successful conversion, the Emirates Lions were clawing their way back into the contest at 23-12.

Chasing the game, a quick lineout attempt by the Lions 10 metres out from their own tryline proved disastrous. A pass was intercepted and the Vodacom Bulls would take the ball through the hands to see fullback Warrick Gelant go over in the corner untouched to seal the victory.

Scorers:

Emirates Lions: Tries: Carlu Sadie, Dylan Smith. Conversion: Elton Jantjies

Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Duane Vermeulen, Warrick Gelant. Conversion: Handre Pollard. Penalties: Handre Pollard (6)