The term “slow poison” has acquired a special meaning at Loftus Versfeld over the years and another dose was administered when the Vodacom Blue Bulls beat GWK Griquas 15-9 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night..
In a game that won’t be remembered for the rugby on the field, but rather for a bizarre and unique yellow card for scrumhalf Ruan Snyman, both sides will be more than disappointed at the quality of rugby they dished up in front of the 9 237-strong crowd.
Snyman will go down as the first halfback to be carded for not putting the ball in straight at the scrum, and was rather unlucky as referee Marius van der Westhuizen had had enough after two incorrect put-ins from Rudy Paige earlier in the game.
While it seems a bit ridiculous to give a card for an infringement as trivial as that, referees have been told in no uncertain terms to come down hard on incorrect actions at the scrum, and Van der Westhuizen simply had no choice in the matter other than to enforce the law.
“He’s making a mockery of the scrum feed, I can’t take it,” Van der Westhuizen offered, showing that it has taken just a month for a previously ignored indiscretion to occupy such an important part of the game.
Fans can only hope that both referees and players come to an understanding about what is being expected, as cards for infringements like that are certainly not something that helps the game along, whatever officials think.
Still, the card actually jolted the Bulls into action and galvanised them on an evening where rugby certainly wasn’t a showcase affair. In fact, it reminded one a lot of a high school dance, with loads of emotion, excitement and hormones, but very little chance of anyone scoring.
In perfect weather conditions it was unbelievable that there were so many errors, making the game a stop-start match and just waiting for someone to take control.
With Snyman off the field, it was the Bulls who simply went back to basics, and with their slow-poison game and excellent defence, they put the ball in the right areas and waited for the mistakes.
Their scrum took a step up as well in the last 20 minutes, and they showed just how much of an attacking weapon it can be.
Just as the game was grinding its way towards a messy draw, the Bulls' scrum upped the ante and won two crucial penalties to stretch the lead to 12-6 from the 6-all stalemate when the yellow card was flashed.
Juegen Visser – on the field and in kicking pole position after Tony Jantjies left the field with a two from four ratio – stepped up and slotted the kicks with an uneasy calm.
While Visser did miss two kicks on the night, he added a third five minutes from time to put the Bulls more than seven points clear, and lapped up the man-of-the-match award in the process.
Griquas did grab a third penalty right at the end to secure a crucial bonus point that might make a big difference down the line.
While the Bulls will trudge off smiling, with four points in the bag, hardly anyone will want to revisit this match.
It would be cruel and unusual punishment for anyone who tries.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Penalties: Jurgen Visser (3), Tony Jantjies (2).
GWK Griquas – Penalties: Francois Brummer (3).