Blue Bulls stay afloat
The Blue Bulls lifted themselves off the bottom of the Currie Cup table with a crucial 26-13 win over Western Province in Pretoria on Friday.
The desperation to keep their hopes of reaching this year's Currie Cup playoffs alive was evident as they threw everything they had at Western Province.
They dominated possession and field position for most of the first half with only 11 points to show for their efforts.
Western Province also gifted the Bulls with possession from their lineouts as the visitors lost a handful of their own throw-ins.
The Pretoria-based side, however, made life difficult for themselves as they could not convert the pressure into points.
Bulls fly-half Louis Fouche opened the scoring with a penalty conversion three minutes into the match.
The hope that the match would open up was, however, dispelled with points hard to come by for the next 20 minutes.
The hosts had an early chance to score a five-pointer when Bjorn Basson, in his return from injury, appeared to score a superb try in the left-hand corner.
After numerous replays, the television match official JC Fortuin, however, made a marginal call, ruling the ball went forward in a previous move in the build-up to Basson diving for the line.
The Bulls nevertheless kept trudging along patiently, building phases to get over the advantage line.
Fouche extended the Bulls' lead to six points with another penalty conversion in the 26th minute.
Province's defence held strong despite the Bulls' tireless attacks on the gainline.
The home side did not do themselves any favours as poor decision making cost them at crucial stages of the match with Fouche making a few errors of judgement.
The Bulls nevertheless found the tryline shortly before the half-time break with veteran right wing Akona Ndungane scoring on the left side of the field, with Fouche missing the conversion.
Province, however, had the last say of the first half when flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis succeeded with a penalty conversion as the whistle blew for the recess.
The visitors came out firing in the second half with their lineouts also looking healthier than in the first.
Fouche got their lead to back 11 points in the 44th minute with another penalty kick, while Catrakilis returned the favour four minutes later.
The Bulls flyhalf kept the scoreboard ticking over with his goal-kicking as he added another three points a minute after his opposite number's kick.
Province soon found themselves in the match when Kaplan awarded the Capetonians a penalty try.
The Bulls were cautioned for pulling down Province's rolling mauls on numerous occasions close to the line, with Catrakilis converting.
Their hopes of a victory over the Bulls in their own backyard were, however, short-lived as Fouche got his team out of trouble with two penalty conversions close to the end.
For Blue Bulls:
Pens: Fouche 7
Try: Penalty try
Pens: Catrakilis 2
Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouchè, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Dewald Potgieter (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett/Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Lionel Cronjè, 22 Ulrich Beyers.
Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Deon Fourie (c), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Helmut Lehmann, 20 JJ Gagiano, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Pat Howard.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan