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Bulls player ratings vs Leinster | 2023/24 URC semi-final

By Philip Bendon
Nizaam Carr

Bulls player ratings: The Vodacom Bulls secured a remarkable 25 – 20 win over a highly touted Leinster side at Loftus Versfeld to book a place in next week’s BKT URC final.


Despite dominating the opening twenty minutes, the Bulls would fall behind as James Lowe touched down in the left hand corner.

Six minutes later, the home side would have their first score as Johan Goosen found a soft spot in the Leinster line to scamper over. Now, back on level footing, Goosen would slot a penalty to take the lead on the stroke of halftime.

The second half would be a back and forth affair with the Bulls scoring in the opening minute through winger Sergeal Petersen who would score again twenty minutes later. Adding a conversion and a penalty, Goosen would seal the deal for the home side, who will now face either Glasgow or Munster in the final.

Here is how each of the Bulls players fared.

1. Gerhard Steenekamp – 7
Twisting the experienced Tadhg Furlong at scrum time, the loosehead got his pack on the front foot. Sustaining his effort for sixty minutes, the loosehead gained some tough yards and put in several momentum-stunting tackles.

2. Johan Grobbelaar – 6
Pinpoint with his line-out throwing; the hooker emptied himself in the first half before being replaced at halftime. He had a few one-on-one moments with Dan Sheehan and more than held his own.

3. Wilco Louw – 7
The 14-times capped Springbok had a real tussle with Andrew Porter and got on top of the Irish international at scrum time. Now just three weeks out from the two-test series against Ireland, Louw will have firmly put himself in the mix to renew his rivalry with Porter.


Set Plays

Scrum Win %
Lineout Win %
Restarts Received
Restarts Received Win %

4. Ruan Vermaak – 6
Doing the necessary grunt work for his team, the powerhouse lock played on the edge and was caught a few times by the referee. Noticeably, he was tasked with handling the physical Joe McCarthy around the breakdown, and he generally limited the Irish international’s influence.

5. Ruan Nortje – 7
Alert to Leinster’s short kicking game, Nortje hoovered up chip kicks and short up and unders masterfully. At set piece, he disrupted the Leinster line-out whilst ensuring his side had a consistent and clean ball.

6. Marco van Staden – 6
A complete brain fade that wiped out the first try aside, van Staden was powerful and brought a hard edge to the contest with his chop tackling. On the attacking side of things, he carried hard in the close quarters, which freed up his backrow colleagues to roam in the wider channels.

7. Elrigh Louw – 8
Displaying his athletic prowess as he plucked two cross-field kicks from the air inside the first ten minutes, the rangy backrow was a mismatch nightmare for Jordan Larmour and Jimmy O’Brien. Defensively, his work rate was exceptional.


8. Cameron Hanekom – 9
An off-the-charts showing from the youngster as he went blow-for-blow with Leinster’s star number eight Caelen Doris. Topping the successful carries, clean breaks, defenders beaten, meters made, offloads made, tackles made, and turnovers won charts says it all. He fully deserved his Player of the Match award and is a star in the making.


Ball Carries
Post Contact Metres
Line Breaks

9. Embrose Papier – 6
There was nothing flashy from the scrumhalf today, but he was rock solid and a key contributor to the Bull’s efficient kicking game. Stepping away from being his usual running threat, he was the ultimate distributor as the Bulls chanced their arm to get wide at every opportunity.

10. Johan Goosen – 8
Saving his best performance of the season for the semi-final, Goosen had a superb outing with the boot as he pinned Leinster back with long searching kicks. Switching between first and second receiver, the forgotten Springbok stretched the Leinster defence with his long passing game.

11. Devon Williams – 4
Outside of getting over for what looked set to be the first try of the evening, it was a tough outing for the veteran winger with basic errors.

12. Harold Vorster – 6
In a similar vein to van Staden, the powerhouse centre carried into the belly of the beast as he courageously took on the rush defence. Whilst his meters made won’t blow any minds, his carries were a key cog to the Bulls setting a platform to go wide from.

13. David Kriel – 7
Another exceptional showing from the versatile utility back as he dug deep into his bag of tricks. Combining long-range kicks with an efficient offloading game, Kriel shone both as a carrying option and as a decoy runner against the experienced Leinster midfield.

14. Sergeal Petersen – 8
Recovering from a yellow card in the 22nd minute to score two exceptional tries, the second of which was a moment of individual brilliance that saw the well-travelled winger offset the loss of Canan Moodie and Kurt Lee Adrendse.


Tackles Made
Tackles Missed
Tackle Completion %

15. Willie Le Roux – 8
Clearly identified space on the fringes of the Leinster rush defence early in the contest and exposed it with deft kicks to Elrigh Louw. Stepping in as the first receiver routinely offered the Bulls the ability to change the point of attack.


16. Akker van der Merwe – 6
Picked up where Grobbelaar left off, the man nicknamed ‘The Raging Warthog’ played like a cornered animal as he carried low and hard into contact. Defensively he wreaked havoc on the Leinster attack as he chopped down their powerful ball carriers.

17. Simphiwe Matanzima – 6
A true impact sub, the loosehead had some incisive carries when he came on and brought an injection of energy in defence with several key tackles.

18. Francois Klopper – 6
Exceptionally physical around the breakdown, the big tighthead disrupted Leinster’s late attack, which went a long way toward the crucial late turnover needed to seal the win.

19. Reinhardt Ludwig – 6
The hard-hitting 21-year-old took on Leinster’s enforcer Joe McCarthy with unrelenting physicality, which was an interesting subplot throughout the final fifteen minutes.

20. Nizaam Carr – 6
Like a wasp hovering around a pint of Fanta, Carr was a constant threat around the breakdown as he slowed the Leinster ball, causing mass frustration for the Irish side.

21. Keagan Johannes – N/A
Did not feature.

22. Chris Smith – N/A
Did not feature.

23. Cornel Smit – 5
Largely anonymous but hardly surprising given he had just joined the camp, but crucially, he was solid in defence and never found wanting. Notably, he was the first player to chase down James Lowe after Goosen’s late missed penalty.


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John 30 days ago

Gerhard Steenekamp should be a 9 at least. Destroyed Furlong at scrum time and not many do that. It seemed to affect the whole Leinster pack, being hammered at scrum time.

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