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Ireland alarms ring as Bulls consign Leinster to another trophy-less season

By PA
Vodacom Bulls players celebrate after their side's victory in the United Rugby Championship semi-final match between Vodacom Bulls and Leinster at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo By Shaun Roy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster lost a thrilling United Rugby Championship semi-final as the Bulls prevailed 25-20 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

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Two tries from Sergeal Petersen and another from Johan Goosen, who contributed 15 points, saw the Bulls through to their second final in three years.

Leinster responded with tries from James Lowe and Caelan Doris, but their bid for a ninth URC title and a first trophy since 2021 fell just short.

A frantic opening failed to produce points as the defensive quality on show matched that of both attacks.

The Bulls were winning the kicking battle and wings Petersen and Devon Williams had chances to score before the hosts did cross after 19 minutes.

Willie Le Roux’s catch and pass in the same movement sent Williams into the corner, but the try was disallowed as Bulls flanker Marco van Staden had taken out Ross Byrne off the ball.

Fixture
United Rugby Championship
Bulls
25 - 20
Full-time
Leinster
All Stats and Data

Bulls were reduced to 14 men by Petersen’s deliberate knock-on and Leinster took instant advantage of the yellow card.

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The Irish province drove to the line and Byrne slipped a clever pass for wing Lowe to make the corner.

Byrne added the extras for a seven-point lead, but Bulls fought back strongly despite being a man down.

Goosen cut a brilliant line from Embrose Papier’s pass to cross unopposed and the outside-half levelled the scores with a simple conversion.

Bulls remained on top with their full complement restored and the Leinster scrum showed signs of discomfort.

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Goosen landed an angled 25-metre penalty to put Bulls ahead 10-7 at the break.

The South African outfit extended their lead within two minutes of the restart as Harold Worster delivered a delightful kick down the touchline.

Petersen gathered to race in and Goosen converted, but Leinster stormed straight back just as it appeared the Bulls would dominate the closing stages at altitude.

Caelan Doris powered over from close range after Leinster had turned down the opportunity to take an easy three points and Byrne added the extras from under the posts.

Leinster levelled matters near the hour mark after a brilliant kick and collect from Lowe forced a Bulls error and a successful Byrne penalty.

Goosen and Byrne exchanged kicks as the see-saw nature of a high-quality contest continued.

There were 13 minutes left when Petersen beat replacement Ciaran Frawley to Papier’s Garryowen.

Petersen touched the ball past Frawley and pulled it down to race clear, and Leinster could not rescue the situation in a pulsating finish.

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Comments

145 Comments
S
Simon 31 days ago

URC refs on the whole are sub-standard. They miss a lot and are over fussy when it comes to cards and head contact. They have no empathy with the players and cannot understand that not every head contact is foul play. They are also very favourable to the Irish teams - probably because Irish rugby run the URC.
The playing standard has improved massively so the URC should now invest in getting it’s referees up to the same standard because they quite often decide the outcome of games, not the players, which is totally unacceptable.

E
Etienne 31 days ago

Referee was a disgrace, did everything he could to keep Leinster in a game where they were clearly outmuscled

C
Craig 31 days ago

Not only did SA sides play in different time zones but we were away for 2months sometimes and playing in rain in NZ
Super rugby was also early in the morning to watch in SA and the players were not enjoying it. SO why not help European sides get better and our players are happier.

B
Bruiser 31 days ago

SA teams having way more success in Europe than they ever did in Super Rugby, where all they ever did was moan about the travel.

B
Brakkenjan 32 days ago

Congrats Bulls! To Leinster, tough luck, maybe next time? 🤣 To the Irish team about to tour South Africa soon, brace yourself for a highly motivated and angry Bok team when you face them. The Boks haven’t played Ireland in a very long time on home soil, trust me, they are licking their lips for this opportunity. One BIG problem area for the Irish would be the scrum, if you’re not going to sort that out, the Boks are going to have a field day

C
Craig 32 days ago

For the fans and for rugby must have SA sides in your European competitions
SA rugby has saved the URC by taking it to a much higher level. Now you have NZ and AUS fans watching with interest and SA fans which is big time

J
Jacques 32 days ago

The late and high shot on Willie Le Roux was a disgrace. Despite various replays , both the referee and TMO chose to ignore this?

B
BeegMike 32 days ago

Best team in the world, ends third in the URC

F
Flankly 32 days ago

Terrible officiating, by both ref and TMO.

At best it was unconscious bias. It’s the dirtiest I have seen Leinster play, and the ref didn’t notice. Or worse, he chose to ignore it.

The TMO could have kept the ref honest in some key moments. Maybe he was also willing a Leinster win, or just enjoying a beer.

P
PDV 32 days ago

Explain to me why Leinster are supposed to be the best club side in the world. Three years and not a single trophy.

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