Two converted tries in the final seven minutes ensured that the Vodacom Blue Bulls recorded a well-deserved 40-32 win in their Vodacom Cup match against GWK Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.
On a warm afternoon, the Bulls looked the better-coached side on the day and seemed more dangerous with ball in hand throughout.
Both of the final two conversion attempts were successfully kicked from far out by replacement flyhalf Handrè Pollard to put the game out of reach for the losing finalist of last year.
Both teams achieved a bonus point for scoring four or more tries in what was a repeat of last year’s semifinal of the competition.
The visitors from Pretoria seemed the fitter team and were in dominant form in the final quarter.
Griquas often found themselves chasing the game. Each time they clawed their way back into the match, they conceded points again.
Dangerous winger Sampie Mastriet put in a strong performance throughout the match, and was richly rewarded with a try three minutes before the end.
At halftime the men from Pretoria led 21-20. The first half was characterised by the Bulls wasting a couple of golden opportunities to increase their lead, while Griquas turned over way too much possession which eventually cost them.
The Peacock Blues weren't as effective at the breakdowns as coach Pote Human would have wanted, while open-side flanker Marnus Schoeman wasn’t his productive self in stealing ball at the rucks.
In general Griquas couldn’t find the necessary rhythm to ask enough questions of the Bulls' defence.
Bulls coach Nollis Marais would be very satisfied with his team's performance, especially the backline, who often looked threatening.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Dries Swanepoel, Ruan Snyman (2), Francois Venter, Wiaan Liebenberg, Sampie Mastriet. Conversions: Tony Jantjies (3), Handrè Pollard (2).
GWK Griquas – Tries: PJ Vermeulen, Marnus Schoeman, Penalty try, Edwin Hewitt, Simon Westraadt. Conversions: Vermeulen (2). Penalty: Francois Brummer.