The Bulls did fellow South African franchises, the Lions and Sharks, by ending the Jaguares’ impressive winning streak.
The Bulls outscored the Argentinean outfit by 43-34 in an entertaining 11-try encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
It was the Jaguares’ first defeat in nine matches and means the Lions retain first place in the South Africa conference – ahead of the Argentinean franchise (three points behind) and the Sharks, who could overtake the Jaguares in the play-off race when the Durban franchise host the Argentineans next week.
The Bulls recovered from a shocking start to outplay the visitors.
Trailing 0-19 at the end of the first quarter, the Bulls eventually managed to work their way back into the game and by half-time had claimed the lead – 21-19.
That was an astonishing situation, given that the Jaguares had almost 70 percent of the possession and the Bulls had missed 26 six of their 80-odd tackle attempts.
It was their set pieces, and the line-outs in particular, where the Bulls also coughed up a lot of possession.
After the break the Bulls’ defence improved significantly, allowing the Jaguares less time and space to play their free-running game.
At the same time, more of the Bulls’ passes stuck and their line-outs started functioning more efficiently.
The possession stats also evened out a lot more.
While the Jaguares were brutally clinical in the opening exchanges, the Bulls’ game was littered with errors and lost opportunities.
It took the Jaguares less than three minutes to open the scoring – Nicolas Sanchez exposing the Bulls’ porous defence on the blind to roll over in the tackle.
Two minutes later Sanchez was the creator, with Pablo Matera finishing off some great interplay.
The Bulls had their chances, but their options and execution remained flawed – while silly penalties further contributed to their demise.
The third try came near the end of the opening quarter, as loose forward Javier Ortega Desio put Gonzalo Bertranou into space and over the line – the Bulls’ porous defence in midfield again exposed.
That finally awoke the Bulls from their slumber, as Warrick Gelant sprinted into a gap and some great interplay put Johnny Kotze over.
The mistakes and penalties by the Bulls continued to mount, as the Jaguares escaped time-after-time.
The hosts eventually managed to get a few passes to stick and by the 35th minute, Embrose Papier sauntered over for his team’s second try.
Right on the stroke of half-time Jessie Kriel intercepted near the Jaguares’ 10-metre line and suddenly the Bulls were in the lead – 21-19 at the break.
The Jaguares were guilty of some silly errors in the early stages of the second half and Handre Pollard stretched his team’s lead to 24-19 with a long-range penalty.
Soon enough the Bulls’ leaky defence was exposed again – Emiliano Boffelli sliding through a huge gap and scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou sprinting over.
Pollard hit back for the Bulls with a sublime break and then sent Jamba Ulengo over as the Bulls reclaimed the lead.
Just short of the hour mark Marco van Staden picked up a loose ball at a line-out and sprinted 20 metres for his team’s fifth try.
Emiliano Boffelli closed the gap to 29-36 with a penalty from right in front of the Bulls’ goalposts, but almost immediately Kotze went on an arching run down the right wing before an inside pass put Ulengo over for his second try.
Two minutes after the hooter for full-time had sounded, Matera went over, but Boffelli failed with the conversion attempt that would have given them the consolation of a losing bonus point.
Man of the match: Nicolas Sanchez was full of creativity, as always, and Emiliano Boffelli did all you want from a fullback – really good in the air and very dangerous on attack. Bulls Pierre Schoeman had arguably his best game of the season. Fullback Warrick Gelant was solid at the back and had some impressive runs. Flyhalf Handre Pollard was pure class, even winning turnovers at the breakdown. However, our award goes to Bulls lock Rudolph Snyman – plenty of run-metres, making a match-high 16 tackles and having a massive workrate off the ball.
For the Bulls:
Tries: Kotze, Papier, Kriel, Ulengo 2, Van Staden
Cons: Pollard 5
For the Jaguares:
Tries: Sanchez, Matera 2, Bertranou 2
Cons: Sanchez 3
You may want to listen to this:
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima/Matthys Basson, 18 Mornay Smit, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Nick de Jager, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Dries Swanepoel.:
Jaguares: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti Pagadizaval, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Javier Manuel, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Tomas Lavanini, 20 Marcos Kremer, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Matias Orlando, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere.
Referee: Egon Seconds (South Africa)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Jaco Kotze (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)