Bulls clinch position in Super 14 rugby semi-finals

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Bulls rugby team has managed to reach the semi-finals of the Southern Hemisphere provincial rugby union competition, the Super 14. Despite entering the match with the burden of having to score 32 points and receiving a bonus point (by scoring four tries). The Bulls managed to overcome fellow South African team, the Stormers, at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday May 13, winning the match 43 points to 10 in the final round of the regular season.

Entering the final round of the regular season, the Bulls and fellow South African Durban-based Sharks, as well as the Australian Canberra-based Brumbies were the only sides in contention for the fourth and last finals position. After the Brumbies, who unlike the Sharks were actually ahead on the number of points, were soundly defeated by the Canterbury-based Crusaders, 33 points to 3, the result meant that either the Sharks or Bulls could mathematically take fourth position on the ladder. The Sharks stormed to victory over Perth-based Western Force, winning 41 points to 25, meaning that the Bulls would have to score at least four tries to be ensured of a bonus point, to move ahead of the Sharks, who were now sitting in front of them on points difference.

Despite the set back of both prop Danie Thiart and captain Victor Matfield to the sin-bin in the first half, the Pretoria-based Bulls entered halftime leading 26 points to 3. A try to the Stormers happened in the opening minute of the second half, though the Bulls held on to the victory. Bryan Habana scored the last try, which was subsequently converted and pushed the Bulls into fourth place on the table on points difference. The Bulls will now faced the Crusaders in New Zealand next week for a spot in the final, the other spot is to be contested also in New Zealand, between the Wellington-based Hurricanes and the New South Wales Waratahs.