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Bulls continue their charge up the URC table by trouncing Dragons

By PA
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Bulls continued their charge towards a possible URC playoff place by claiming an emphatic 55-20 victory over the Dragons in Pretoria. The Dragons conceded eight tries at Loftus Versfeld, although they also delivered three of their own in an entertaining if one-sided encounter.

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Full-back Kurt-Lee Arendse and centre Lionel Mapoe each claimed doubles, while there were also Bulls tries for number eight Arno Botha, hooker Johan Grobbelaar, flanker Marcell Coetzee and substitute Zak Burger.

Chris Smith kicked five conversions and a penalty, and Morne Steyn converted Burger’s score, while the Dragons posted tries for wings Rio Dyer and Jared Rosser, plus fly-half Sam Davies, who also booted a penalty and conversion.

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Russel Winter speaks about the Bulls’ progress in the URC

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Russel Winter speaks about the Bulls’ progress in the URC

It took only four minutes for the Bulls to display their enviable power up front, and although the Dragons initially thwarted a driving maul, they could not clear and Botha claimed a try that Smith converted.

Smith extended the Bulls’ advantage through a ninth-minute penalty before the Dragons exerted pressure without reward as they looked to reduce their early deficit. Dragons showed a commendable approach, looking to attack from deep at times, and they were not flustered by the Bulls’ physical approach, with Davies kicking a 24th-minute penalty.

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But the Bulls always looked capable of moving up a gear, and they did so in ruthless fashion by scoring two tries in three minutes. Mapoe rounded off a slick move to touch down between the posts, then scrum-half Embrose Papier made a touchline break before sending an unmarked Arendse over. Smith converted both scores, and the Bulls were suddenly out of sight, leading by 21 points midway through the second quarter.

The Bulls were in relentless pursuit of a bonus point, and it arrived two minutes before the break courtesy of Grobbelaar, who touched down following another imposing drive by hungry Bulls forwards.

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Smith’s fourth successful conversion took the Bulls past 30 points, but the Dragons conjured a consolation through a well-worked move as Davies’ inside pass was collected by Dyer, who sprinted clear to score and make it 31-8 at half-time.

Dyer’s score lifted the Dragons, and they pounced again two minutes after the restart when Davies intercepted a Bulls pass, found centre Adam Warren in support, and he sent Rosser sprinting clear. Dragons number eight Ollie Griffiths went off injured, and he had barely left the field before the Bulls struck again through a mesmeric score by Arendse that saw him leave defenders trailing from 60 metres out.

Davies claimed a third try for the visitors, but the Bulls quickly resumed normal service through touchdowns from Coetzee, Mapoe and Burger that underlined their URC dominance.

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Jon 5 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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