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Bulls fall agonisingly short in thriller against Lyon

By Warren Fortune
Lyon's French hooker Yanis Charcosset (L) and Lyon's French lock Killian Geraci celebrate after winning the European Champions Cup first round day 2 group A Rugby Union match between Lyon Olympique Universitaire Rugby (Lyon) and Bulls (Pretoria) at Stade de Gerland in Lyon on December 16, 2023. (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Bulls will be kicking themselves after they went down 28-29 to Lyon in a Champions Cup Round Two encounter in France on Saturday.

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The home side outscored the visitors by five tries to three in a thrilling match at the Stade de Gerland.

However, it was the Bulls who were six points in front after a great first-half display.

After a see=saw battle for most of the second half, there was late drama when the Bulls thought they deserved a penalty at a ruck after the full-time hooter sounded. However, the match officials believed Lyon did nothing wrong when they knocked the ball loose from a Bulls player’s hands.

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Replacement flyhalf Jaco van der Walt also missed a penalty kick with five minutes left on the clock.

It was a fantastic start for the Bulls with Jan-Hendrik Wessels charging down a Thaakir Abrahams kick before scrumhalf Zak Burger snatched up the loose ball to run in for the first try in the second minute.

The Bulls continued to apply the pressure with some great variation on attack and a great kicking game and they extended their lead in the 12th minute with a Chris Smith penalty.

Lyon were nearly scored in the 17th minute after sustained pressure, but big lock Romain Taofifenua was held up over the tryline.

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The home side eventually got their first points of the game in the 23rd minute after Fletcher Smith found Ethan Dumortier with a neat crosskick and the wing had an easy run for his team’s first try.

However, it didn’t take long for the Bulls to hit back with Mpilo Gumede showing great skill to get a pass away to Sergeal Petersen, who ran in for his team’s second try. Chris Smith surprisingly missed the conversion.

Match Summary

0
Penalty Goals
3
5
Tries
3
2
Conversions
2
0
Drop Goals
0
128
Carries
172
8
Line Breaks
6
15
Turnovers Lost
10
4
Turnovers Won
5

The Bulls flyhalf had another crack at the poles a few minutes later and this time he extended his team’s lead to 11 points.

It was the home side that had the final say in the first half with flank Pierre-Samuel Pacheco going over the corner after some enterprising rugby from his backs.

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Page-Relo could not add the extras and at half-time, it was 18-12 to the Bulls.

The Bulls opened the scoring in the second half with another Smith penalty in the 43rd minute after a high tackle on Harold Vorster denied the visitors a scoring opportunity.

The away side’s lead was then reduced significantly in the 46th minute and it all started with some magic from Abrahams.

The fullback weaved his way through the Bulls’ defence and with the Pretoria team in pieces, the ball went wide to Alfred Parisien, who ran in for his team’s second try.

Lyon then took the lead in the 62nd minute when a well-worked line-out move sent replacement hooker Yanis Charcosset sprinting down the touchline to score his team’s fourth try of the match.

22m Entries

Avg. Points Scored
4.1
7
Entries
Avg. Points Scored
2.3
12
Entries

Paddy Jackson added the extra two points to give his team a 24-21 lead.

That lead didn’t last long as Springbok flank Marco van Staden crashed over from close range for the Bulls in the 68th minute. Smith nailed a difficult conversion to give his team a four-point lead.

However, the Bulls’ defence let them down shortly after that with Charcosset sprinting through before the ball went wide to Thibaut Regard who had enough space to score in the corner.

Jackson could not find the direction with his conversion.

Replacement flyhalf Van der Walt had an opportunity to put his team in front in the 75th minute but he pushed his penalty kick wide.

The Bulls applied plenty of pressure in the final minutes and they thought they should have been awarded a late penalty at a breakdown. However, the match officials ruled in favour of Lyon and the French side walked away with the five pool points

Man of the match: Lyon replacement hooker Yanis Charcosset was a standout in the second half and he played a big role in his team’s win. Bulls scrumhalf Zak Burger had a great all-round game. However, the award goes to Bulls lock Janko Swanepoel who was immense in the physical exchanges once again.

Man of the match: Lyon replacement hooker Yanis Charcosset was a standout in the second half and he played a big role in his team’s win. Bulls scrumhalf Zak Burger had a great all-round game. However, the award goes to Bulls lock Janko Swanepoel who was immense in the physical exchanges once again.

The scorers:

For Lyon:
Tries: Dumortier, Pacheco, Parisien, Charcosset, Regard
Cons: Page-Relo, Jackson

For Bulls:
Tries: Burger, Petersen, Van Staden
Cons: Smith 2
Pens: Smith 3

Teams:

Lyon: 15 Thaakir Abrahams, 14 Ethan Dumortier, 13 Alfred Parisien, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Martin Page-Relo, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Pierre-Samuel Pacheco, 6 Marvin Okuya, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Killian Geraci, 3 Feao Fotuaika, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Sébastien Taofifenua.
Replacements: 16 Yanis Charcosset, 17 Jérôme Rey, 18 Valentin Simutoga, 19 Félix Lambey, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Baptiste Couilloud, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Thibaut Regard.

Bulls: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Henry Immelman, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Izak Burger, 8 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 7 Mpilo Gumede, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Lange, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 JF van Heerden, 20 Merwe Olivier, 21 Bernard van der Linde, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Sebastian de Klerk.

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Jonny Perriam (Scotland), Finlay Brown (Scotland)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)

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sean 2 hours ago
The bite don't match the bark

Yeah, he has a few good points… I disagree that our 7s haven't done anything, we won Bronze in 2016, and we were virtually unplayable to the backend of the “teens” winning the series. 7s is far more competitive globally than Union, so it's fair to say we haven't dominated, but we are almost always contenders. But I do agree that our national side doesn't perform nearly as well as it should between World Cups, and I do agree that our supporters can be too passionate and the opitimity of what Rugby stands against. I have said so many times. And I also believe some context needs to be taken into account with Saturday's win for Ireland. They're a really good team! Settled coaching staff, and bar a few legends retiring, they've had a full season and plenty of time together. We have some youngsters being groomed for the future, have played only 3 games now under a new coaching team with new philosophies and game plans. I'm excited by what the future of this team holds, as much as I am disappointed by the result. But unlike this article suggests, I am never going to take away from what Ireland has achieved, is achieving, and where they're heading. As a Rugby fan, I love the tight games, like the last two weekends. As a Bok Super Fan, I agree we don't perform as well as we should. And as an aside, you come play a game at 7am on our fields, bud. -2°c and frost on the field that is as hard as concrete…. Then we’ll see just how tough you are. Well done Ireland! They played well, and gave our boys a lot to think about. That's what you want from the top two teams in the world. Rugby won. The fans of this greatbsport won. A'n bullshit like this article is why Rugby is losing its identity. I don't like soccer. This article perpetuates the soccer influences the game of Rugby is starting to see. It's why Wayne Barnes retired, feared for his family, and he isn't the only ref to say so. I have called out many Bok fans for being an embarrassment to the game, and I will continue to do so. Rugbypass.com, this article is close to the same bullshit. You should be better.

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