Given the Rebels’ loss to the Stormers and uncertainty around Israel Folau’s playing future, the significance of this match was heightened for where it could leave the Reds on the conference ladder. With Samu Kerevi expected to miss the next match for a rest, Queensland were doubling down on this game for an rare South Africa win.
The First Half Synopsis
It was all the Bulls in the first half as they played some beautiful rugby, the likes I’ve not seen from Bulls team for numerous years. They played with width predominatly and it troubled the Reds who, you felt, were only barely hanging on. Tries to prop Lizo Gqoboka and backrower Marco Van Staden were both from close range but were a result form a build up in pressure. Lock RG Snyman and No 8 Paul Shoeman were proving hard to contain in attack while flyhalf Handre Pollard controlled the play methodically.
The Reds scored their first points, through a penalty, within the first minute but never really looked like scoring again. The Bulls dominated both possession (and territory and any chance the Reds did get in the Bulls’ half was generally wasted with an easy turnover. The best attacking play involved a strong run by Lukhan Salaka-Loto making space for Jack Hardy, however the ball was ultimately turned over. Salakai-Loto was one of the best for the visitor’s, while the scrum found its feed after some early wobbles to finish on top of its opponents.
The Bulls went to the break with a 13-3 lead.
The Second Half Synopsis
The Bulls kept the standards up in the second half, and in fact the first minute or so were just an encapsulation of what happened the previous 40 minutes as the home team secured a turnover and marched their way forward for Pollard to score under the posts. They were always in control and even when the Reds managed to score a couple of tries, they were able to reciprocate and replicate themselves.
The Reds managed to string together a few more attacking passages this half but still looked largely ineffective in attack. Kerevi scored a brace of tries running straight and hard, one on the back of a delightful Salakai-Loto off-load following another typically strong run. Queensland battled to make an impact through the Bulls defence and had showed little variation to break through. In a positive, University of Queensland outside back Jock Campbell made his debut from the bench and had some nice touches.
The Reds now take on the Sharks in Durban, with this loss placing them 2nd bottom on the conference ladder just ahead of the Sunwolves. While the Bulls can enjoy the status at the top of their conference with a well earned bye.
The Game Changer
In reality the Bulls were always in control, disregarding the first minute of the game. However it was the try to Handre Pollard directly after half time that nailed the Reds’ coffin shut and really put an end to any hope they had of getting back into the match.
The G&GR MOTM
Lukhan Salakai-Loto was far and away the Reds’ best while Izack Rodda continued to work hard. For the Bulls Handre Pollard and Burger Odendaal controlled the inside channel while Paul Shoeman was very effective as well. But it has to be the massive Bulls lock RG Snyman who was like a man among boys at times in his dominance.
Salakai-Loto continues his push to be considered as the Wallaby 6. Taniela Tupou put in his best half of rugby this year anchoring a dominant scrum and running powerfully. On the flipside young Tate McDermott was brought back to reality with a loose game nowhere near the same quality as his recent performances.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Lizo Gqoboka 4’, Marco Van Staden 28’, Handre Pollard ’41, Handro Liebenberg 60’, Jade Stighling 64’
Conversions: Handre Pollard 42’, 61’
Penalties: Handre Pollard 14’
Tries: Samu Kerevi 58’, 68’
Conversions: Bryce Hegarty 59’, 69’
Penalties: Bryce Hegarty 1’