Last week the Reds had their best game of rugby since… well it’s a long time okay. This week they have taken the long flight to South Africa and are facing the 4-5 Bulls at Altitude. Every Reds supporter is hoping ‘the boys’ can keep their momentum going but the Bulls are never easy beats at home.
The Bulls started the game at 100 miles an hour. Pressuring the Reds defence but the Reds scrambled well to keep the home team out. When the Reds got their first opportunity in the Bulls half they took it. They ran a set move off the back of their strong scrum and put Feauai-Sautia over in the corner.
The Reds faded towards the end of the half and the Bulls took advantage scoring two late tries to van der Merwe and Straus. Things were starting to look very lopsided at 17-5. As the half time hooter sounded The Reds won a ruck penalty 35 metres from the Bulls line. Frisby played on and passed to Liam Gill standing in at flyhalf who calmly slotted the 35 metre drop goal. The half time scored still looked ominous at 17-8.
The Bulls started the second half as well as they started the first. They racked up ten points before the Reds had put their mouth guards in. The Bulls first try of the half was a screamer with a chip over the line from Brummer and the two centres regathering and putting Labuschagne away and over close to the posts.
To their credit the Reds stuck with it and Samu Kerevi manage to cross twice to keep the Reds in touch 27-22 but again the altitude seemed to effect the Reds and they couldn’t maintain their line speed and their handling dropped off. The bulls scored two more tries stretching their lead and winning the game 41-22. At the death the Bulls were looking for the bonus point try but a poor lineout robbed them of a chance to score and Liam Gill once again ended the half with a kick.
The Reds forwards looked less assured without Rob Simmons and the backs while improving still looked clunky. There was a lot of dropped ball and many passed bounced or were behind the man. The Bulls matched the Reds in the forwards but their backs looked like a well drilled unit playing to their strengths. The score line was a good reflection of where each team performed and their place on the Super rugby ladder.
The Game Changer
The Reds were competitive for much of the match but many of their big names failed to make an impact this week. Rob Simmons absence was keenly felt but the biggest factor in the game was the altitude. At about 30 minutes into each half you could see the Reds game drop slightly. For a team at the top of their game it’s manageable. But a team struggling for form will always struggle
The G&GR MOTM
For the Reds Nick Frisby played very well but it’s hard to single anyone else out for credit. Samu Kerevi scored two tries but was pretty well contained the rest of the time. Liam Gill produced his usual outstanding effort. The south Africans picked Jannes Kirsten and it’s hard to argue against their decision, he was every where. Jannes Kirsten is the GAGR Man Of The Match
Eto Nabuli is a big unit but he was beaten in the air twice by a much shorter, hungrier opponent. Karmichael Hunt tried his best but had a forgettable night. Andrew Ready looks like he will spend some time around wallaby camp this year. Liam Gill was everywhere as usual but with 53 great Aussie openside in Super Rugby his wallaby future is less clear.
Score & Scorers
[one_half last=”no”]Bulls: 41
Tries: Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss, Lappies Labuschagne, Travis Ismaiel, Piet van Zyl
Conversions: Francois Brummer 5
Penalties: Francois Brummer 2
[one_half last=”yes”]Reds: 22
Tries: Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi 2
Conversions: Jake McIntyre 2
Drop Goal: Liam Gill
Cards & citings