Super Rugby

Specman magic helps Bulls down Rebels

Melbourne - A rampaging Bulls battled past the Rebels to win outside South Africa for the first time in three years on Friday.

As it happened: Rebels v Bulls

Tries from Cornal Hendricks, Handre Pollard, Burger Odendaal and Sevens specialist Rosko Specman propelled the Pretoria-based Bulls to a 32-17 win in Melbourne after the Rebels let an early lead slip.

"It was great to get that monkey off our back, the boys were great tonight," Bulls skipper Pollard, who booted three conversions and two penalties, said of snapping the losing streak overseas stretching back to 2016.

"I thought the defence was unbelievable. We did a great job in disrupting their set-pieces."

Incredibly, the Rebels had 100 percent possession in the opening seven minutes and the intense pressure paid off when Marika Koroibete crossed for the first try after a neat combination with Quade Cooper and Dane Haylett-Petty.

But their advantage didn't last, with an unmarked Hendricks easily taking a pinpoint Pollard cross-kick for a touchdown in the corner. And they grabbed the lead with a blistering attack ended by Pollard darting through the defence after a slick pass.

Will Genia then dotted down after Koroibete forced a turnover for the Rebels' second try in a free-flowing game with the first scrum not coming until the 35th minute.

A long-range Pollard penalty sent the Bulls into the break with a 17-12 lead, but Koroibete got his second of the night soon after the restart from close range on the breakdown.

It was in vain as some magic from Specman set Odendaal free to get the Bulls' third try, and Specman sealed the win with a swallow dive try on 68 minutes.

The Bulls picked up four points for their victory and moved to the top of the South African Conference and second in the Overall log.

The Rebels left empty-handed, but stayed second in the Australian Conference. They did however slip to eighth in the Overall standings.

In next weekend's Round 15 action, the Bulls travel to Canberra to play the Brumbies (Friday, May 24 - 11:45 SA time), while the Rebels visit Tokyo to face the Sunwolves (Saturday, May 25 - 07:15 SA time).

Scorers:

Rebels

Tries: Marika Koroibete (2), Will Genia

Conversion: Quade Cooper

Bulls

Tries: Cornal Hendricks, Handre Pollard, Burger Odendaal, Rosko Specman

Conversions: Pollard (3)

Penalties: Pollard (2)

Teams:

Rebels

15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Rob Leota, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner

Substitutes: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Pone Fa’amausili, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Matt To’omua

Bulls

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka

Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw

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