Bulls masters of their own demise
Brenden Nel
June 30, 2018
A late try by Raboni Warren-Vosayaco sunk the Vodacom Bulls hopes of sneaking into the back-door of the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs, as they went down 42-37 to the Sunwolves in Singapore.

In a frustrating game where the Bulls should have put their opponents away after controlling almost 60 percent of possession and territory, being dominant in the set-pieces and having more than enough ball to take the win, they were nowhere near as clinical as they should have been.

Instead, the Bulls managed to succumb to the humid and sticky conditions, lost ball at crucial stages and slipped 18 tackles as the Sunwolves carried the ball almost double the metres of the visitors and despite not having possession, outscored the Bulls six tries to four.

The Bulls lost the ball over the line twice, as the TMO ruled against them on both occasions and while they may have had some gripe about the officiating on the evening, their performance was hardly on par that they could muster a complaint.

Instead it was the same problems that had been apparent all season that haunted them. Periods of domination were not turned into points, defence was lacking at crucial times, so much so that the decision to rid themselves of their defence coach Pine Pienaar at the beginning of the season must be one they are regretting now.


And when it mattered they simply weren’t good enough and the Sunwolves, with a number of ex-South Africans in their ranks, simply looked the more slick outfit on attack.

Coach John Mitchell will remind fans that this is a side that is learning, but like the Stormers who lost to the Sunwolves before them, their fans will expect more from their side, and will not be happy with a below-par performance like this.

The Bulls were shocked early on when Michael Little burst through in the fifth minute, and then reappeared to shuffle recycled ball onto Hayden Parker for the opening try.

While the Bulls looked rattled, it seemed not as much as the Japanese TMO, who awarded the try without a look at the pass, which seemed forward in the lead-up, nor more than one real-time replay.

It was a bizarre moment, and made a joke of the officials using technology, especially as referee Ben O’Keefe specifically asked for a pass to be checked.

Still, the try stood but the Bulls were further shocked in the 10th minute when a lineout move - where the hooker threw to the prop in front and received it back - caught the visitors totally by surprise. An inside pass to scrumhalf Keisuke Uchida was all it took to finish off the try, and leave the Bulls 14-0 down after 10 minutes.


To their credit they didn’t fall apart, but it took some good line speed and pressure from the Bulls backline to bring them into the game.

Jesse Kriel’s hard work off the ball paid off handsomely as he caught Parker behind the advantage line and charged his kick down, taking the ball untouched to run in the Bulls first try.

And then the Bok midfielder was deadly again as a suicide quick lineout in the Sunwolves 22 metre area bounced between two players and into Kriel’s hands, allowing him his second try.

Slowly the Bulls forwards were starting to get on top, and with a clear dominance in the setpieces, they started to rumble their maul forward.

Something had to give and it was Willie Britz who took the obligatory yellow card for collapsing yet another maul, leaving the Bulls one up.

Shortly before the break they took the lead for the first time, with Pollard stopping and changing direction and finding space on a direct line to canter over to score.


At 21-14 at the break, it seemed the Bulls were taking control. And Pollard’s penalty shortly afterwards added to the lead but the Sunwolves were far from done in their fight.

Still down to 14, they found a gap through an inside ball that found the hole in the Bulls defence, fullback Gerhard van der Heever scored against his old team.

The Bulls hit back straight away with a try to Conraad van Heerden, after some beautiful interplay between Pollard and Kriel in the lead-up.

The Sunwolves scored through Willie Britz and a stunning end to end try from their own 22 after stopping a big Bulls attack and with 14 minutes to go they were back in the lead.

Warner lost the ball over the line after a 20-phase assault but the Bulls were able to regain the lead with a penalty.

A bullocking run by Raboni Warren-Vosayaco, who wasn’t held in the tackle and got up and ran through to score, proved to be the key moment in securing the victory for the home side, and the second consecutive loss for the Bulls to their asian opponents.


Sunwolves - tries: Hayden Parker, Keisuke Uchida, Gerhard van den Heever, Willie Britz, Michael Little, Raboni Warren-Vosayaco.

Conversions: Parker (6)

Vodacom Bulls - tries: Jesse Kriel (2), Handre Pollard, Conraad van Heerden

Conversions: Pollard (3). Penalties: Pollard (3)

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