Currie Cup

Composed Bulls reach Currie Cup final in flawed Jukskei knockout

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Cornal Hendricks goes on a run. (Gallo Images)
Cornal Hendricks goes on a run. (Gallo Images)

It's not exactly a revelation, but the Bulls proved again that pragmatism is king in knockout rugby as they beat the Lions 26-21 in their Currie Cup semi-final at Loftus on Saturday.

SCORECARD | Currie Cup semi-final - Bulls v Sharks

Surprisingly, it's only the second time they've reached the showpiece match of the hallowed tournament since 2009.

In a match where fears over how Pretoria's stifling heat would affect the rhythm of contest were realised, Jake White's troops' superior composure and game-management proved telling against neighbours who were simply far too ambitious for the occasion and conditions.

The Bulls laid the foundation for their victory in a bizarre first-half, which stretched to 53 minutes due to a litany of breaks in play, where they made sure the few times they did work themselves into the Lions' half, they scored points.

Excellent tackling and the shrewd tactics of veteran flyhalf Morne Steyn hallmarks of the hosts' play.

It was Steyn's neat chip ahead that allowed 20-year-old winger Stravino Jacobs to score the first of his two tries, after the Bulls pivot had played an instrumental role in the build-up with a darting run.

Yet the temperature started to take its toll and various players had to go off for blood or head injury assessments, almost literally sucking out any semblance of continuity in play.

As a contest, the game desperately needed the half-time break for both teams to catch their breath and re-assess.

To some extent, it did.

Following an early penalty from Steyn, the Lions roared back into contention with two tries in as many minutes.

First, some determined ball-carrying created some continuity for a movement that burst to life once opensider Jaco Kriel dominated three defenders, allowing wily lock Willem Alberts to streak over after beating Bulls prop Trevor Nyakane's tackle.

Lions halfback Andre Warner then showed his team the value of percentage rugby with a decent box-kick, which Jacobs fumbled and was pounced on by replacement flanker Francke Horn, who feed speedy midfielder Wandisile Simelane for the try.

It was the type of event that could've spooked the Bulls, but didn't.

Instead, they showed commendable discipline and calmness as they seemingly frustrated the visitors, who looked anxious that they couldn't capitalise on their short burst.

Yellow cards for both locks, Alberts and Marvin Orie, for professional fouls proved decisive as the Lions lost their oomph.

Substitute Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar spearheaded a brilliant maul from a line-out penalty, while Jacobs - after knocking on over the line a few moments earlier - ambled over the line after the hosts demolished a six-man opposition scrum.

The Lions held onto the ball for most of the final ten minutes, but were thwarted by a superb home defence.

Scorers:

Bulls - (11) 26

Tries: Stravino Jacobs (2), Johan Grobbelaar

Conversion: Morne Steyn

Penalties: Steyn (3)

Lions - (3) 21

Tries: Willem Alberts, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal

Conversion: Elton Jantjies (3)

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