Two botched lineouts, one of which led to a try against them from a good attacking position and the other which cost them the chance of a possible try, and a shaky scrum that was problematic from the very beginning, played a huge part in the Blue Bulls defeat against Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.
The score was 20-5 to WP who took their chances and defended well in a match dominated territorially (65%) by the Light Blues who also had the most of the possession (55%).
Ten scrums were on the retreat and seven penalties were awarded against the Blue Bulls. The second half degenerated to mediocrity with injuries, a string of (especially scrum) penalties and too many handling errors that took the gloss off a fierce battle at particularly the breakdown, some good tackling and both sides’ willingness to run on a field that was soft and slightly wet underfoot.
The Blue Bulls eagerness to run cost them a number of turnovers through interceptions by WP. Not enough finesse at handling, option-taking against a flat-lying backline and a lack of attacking rhythm from not getting enough possession from the penalised scrums despite the many handling errors by WP, tell the story of the Blue Bulls woes in a match that did not reach the promising heights of the first half.
The scum, in which particularly loosehead Corné Fourie was very influential, also gave WP the luxury of escaping from defensive positions when they were under pressure.
That allowed their backs more freedom to express themselves while the Blue Bulls, forced onto defence by the many penalties, often had to attack from deep in their own territory and under severe pressure. In fact, they conceded a try well after the final hooter in trying to salvage a bonus point from the match that ended in a third try for the home side’s Craig Barry.
Western Province (5) 20: Tries: Ruhan Nel, Juarno Augustus, Craig Barry. Conversion: SP Marais. Penalty: Marais.
Blue Bulls (5) 5: Try: Embrose Papier.