United Rugby Championship

Cracking Cornal scores hat-trick as Bulls claim brilliant win over Ospreys

Cornal Hendricks wasn't tackled much on the night. (Photo by Gareth Everett/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images)
Cornal Hendricks wasn't tackled much on the night. (Photo by Gareth Everett/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images)

The Bulls temporarily moved into home quarter-final territory with an excellent, bonus point 38-31 victory over the Ospreys in Swansea on Friday night, illuminated by a magnificent showing from hat-trick hero Cornal Hendricks.

Whether the Stormers - who play the Scarlets on Saturday evening - and Munster allow them to keep their spot in third on the United Rugby Championship (URC) log is a question that will only be answered in due course, but Jake White will tell you that's not really what's important.

As it happened | URC - Ospreys v Bulls

Instead, the Bulls' wily director of rugby will point out that his charges are steadily finding ways to win overseas, an encouraging omen if the Capetonians do squeeze them out and require them to travel to Europe again for the knock-outs.

There had been quite a bit of focus in the build-up on the game-breakers within the men from Pretoria's ranks, a discussion that centre around men like No 8 Elrigh Louw, wing Madosh Tambwe and replacement halfback Embrose Papier.

However, it was the evergreen Hendricks, who was a rampaging presence on attack for the visitors and broke Ospreys tackles in a manner that suggested he would run through an actual brick wall on the night.

The 34-year-old midfielder's devastating influence began early in the second half, when he pounced on a silky pass from 19-year-old fullback Canan Moodie, sliced through a small gap and then fed his rookie team-mate.

From there on, it was his show.

With the Bulls on the front foot, Hendricks ran another brilliantly subtle angle against a flailing defensive line to score his first before, from an attacking maul, was on hand again to break the line from a pop pass from midfield partner Harold Vorster.

And then the cherry on top - a long-range sprint from a kick-off turnover where he combined again with Moodie.

His surge in form couldn't have been timed better.

Hendricks' incisiveness epitomised the overall performance of the Bulls.

They were effective and clinical, keeping their defensive shape well against opponents who wanted to avoid the tight exchanges because they were bullied in the collisions and then pouncing when the inevitable mistake came.

That ability was evident in the first half when two visits in the Ospreys 22 led to the first two tries.   

White will also be chuffed that his burgeoning scrum held the upper hand throughout though it took a while for his pack to be rewarded in that regard.

The Ospreys' industry was laudable, but the scoreline flattered them, one inflated by two late tries.

Point scorers:

Ospreys - (10) 31

Tries: Jac Morgan, Luke Morgan (2), Sam Parry

Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (4)

Penalty: Anscombe

Bulls - (12) 38

Tries: Cornal Hendricks (3), Madosh Tambwe, Chris Smith, Canan Moodie

Conversions: Smith (4)

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