It’s tough on the Bulls, but they cannot be faulted for giving their all in the quarterfinal against the Hurricanes in a match they could have won but which the home side deserved to win.
The final scored was 34-28 and the Bulls were on the attack for the last five minutes, looking for seven points and an extra-time opportunity.
Coming from 17 points behind after the Canes had scored three superb tries in 12 minutes to take their score from 3-7 to 24-7 showed the resolve and the guts of the Bulls.
Yes, the match was lost, and yes, the Bulls were outstanding. But they lost to a better and classy side and as things now stand, no South African side had won in New Zealand after 14 attempts.
How the Bulls players felt after the match isn’t known, but it looked as if the jetlag had very little effect on a side that had to return to New Zealand just ten days after arriving back home from their Australasian tour.
The Hurricanes were on top in every facet except as far as overall territory and possession were concerned with the Bulls narrowly shading the home side in this respect in the second half.
Overall, though, the Hurricanes scored four tries to three, ran 480 metres to 320, carried the ball 101 times to 83, made more passes (111 to 106), beat more defenders and made more clean breaks.
But somehow the Hurricanes had to make more tackles (98 to 78) but missed only four attempts, and he also conceded less turnovers.
In the playing action, Handré Pollard was everywhere to cover, retrieve and kick and tackle, despite making one or two small and uncharacteristic errors. RG Snyman and his lineout partners took a three of the home team’s lineouts, openside flanker Marco van Staden had another impressive outing and Jesse Kriel showed little rust after returning following an injury two months ago.
However, there is a reason why the Wellington side won the most matches despite finishing second with log points, and the Sharks got to know why.
Hurricanes (24) 34: Tries: TJ Perenara, Ben Lam, Salesi Rayasi (2). Conversions: Beauden Barrett (3). Penalties: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett.
Bulls (14) 28: Tries: Warrick Gelant, Cornal Hendricks (2), penalty try. Conversions: Handré Pollard (3).