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Bulls hit winless Zebre for six

By PA
Bulls DoR Jake White /Getty

The Bulls ran in six tries to beat Zebre Parma 45-7 and ensure the Italians’ winless run in the United Rugby Championship will extend to over a year.

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Tries from Johan Grobbelaar, Embrose Papier, Marcell Coetzee, Arno Botha, Lionel Mapoe and Kurt-Lee Arendse secured a comfortable bonus-point win as the Bulls scored 45 unanswered points.

Chris Smith, stepping in for the suspended Morne Steyn at fly-half, produced a flawless goal-kicking display, adding 15 points with a penalty and six conversions.

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Zebre have now lost 20 consecutive games, with their last URC win coming against the Dragons on February 27 last year.

Madosh Tambwe thought he had opened the scoring in the ninth minute but Bulls centre Mapoe had knocked on in the build-up.

The Bulls were reduced to 14 men after 21 minutes when Marcello Violi’s kick was deflected skywards.

Jacopo Trulla got there first but he was caught in by mid-air by Bulls skipper Coetzee, who was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.

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Zebre instantly made the most of their one-man advantage as a driving maul snaked infield to give Violi options right and left.

Violi darted to his right and fed Antonio Rizzi, who stepped inside Tambwe for a score he converted.

Smith replied with a penalty and the Bulls took command after being restored to their full complement by Coetzee’s return.

Hooker Grobbelaar squirmed over as a forward drive appeared to be heading for the touchline.

The Bulls established a 17-7 half-time lead when Mapoe, with a superb one-handed offload, and Arendse combined to send Papier over.

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The visitors continued to dominate after the break and kept the ball in hand well for Coetzee to stretch out and reach the line.

The Bulls celebrated a bonus point just before the hour as Botha benefited from more forward power to drive over from close range.

Mapoe then sliced through from a well-worked set-piece before Arendse kept the best for last.

Elrigh Louw’s footwork and back-of-the-hand pass freed Arendse, who scorched down the touchline to leave several Zebre defenders trailing in his wake.

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finn 5 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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