Road to the final: Bulls shoot to thrill

Beaten finalists in 2022, the Vodacom Bulls have bounced back from last season’s quarter-final defeat to secure a first home final, breaking a URC record along the way.

The Bulls edged out Leinster 25-20, with Glasgow Warriors’ dethroning of defending champions Munster setting up a historic final at Loftus Versfeld.



— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) June 17, 2024

Jake White’s side has been the URC’s big entertainers this season, scoring 85 tries in the round-robin stage at an average of nearly five tries per match. The Bulls also surpassed Leinster’s competition record for most points scored, with 639.

For a third season in a row, the URC will have a new winner.

URC record 2023/24: W13 D0 L5 = 66 points
Form guide: WWWWWW
Top try scorer: Akker van der Merwe – 12
Top points scorer: Johan Goosen – 156

Round 1: Bulls 63-21 Scarlets
The Bulls opened their season with a nine-try victory stroll against the Scarlets at Loftus Versfeld, with Cameron Hanekom and Stedman Gans both collecting doubles.

Round 2: Ulster 26-19 Bulls
Despite outscoring Ulster 3-2 on tries, the Bulls were undone by Nathan’s Doak precision goalkicking as he booted 16 points to steer his team home.

Round 3: Zebre Parma 29-54 Bulls
A high-scoring contest at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi went comfortably the Bulls’ way, with David Kriel scoring three tries.

Round 4: Cardiff 12-18 Bulls
It proved a far tighter affair at the Arms Park one week later, with the Bulls having to withstand Cardiff’s fightback following tries from Embrose Papier and Sebastian de Klerk.

Round 5: Edinburgh 31-23 Bulls
The Bulls had Marcell Coetzee sent off one minute into the second half and the home side took advantage by scoring three tries. There were also yellow cards for Hanekom and Sergeal Petersen.

Round 6: Bulls 53-27 Connacht
The Bulls ran in seven tries on their return to Pretoria and there were 16 points for Jaco van der Walt as they bounced back strongly from defeat in Edinburgh.

Round 7: Bulls 44-10 Sharks
Jake White’s team encountered few problems against their South African rivals, with Gans and Akker van der Merwe both scoring two tries as the Bulls dominated.

Round 8: Stormers 26-20 Bulls
It was a much different story to the Sharks game in Cape Town, where the Bulls faded after a strong start to the game. Canan Moodie was among their try-scorers.

Round 9: Bulls 30-28 Lions
Goosen’s penalty two minutes from time gave the Bulls a thrilling victory as the Lions failed to hold on for a memorable win on the road.

Round 10: Lions 10-25 Bulls
Any chance of the Lions avenging their loss in Pretoria was undone by the Bulls’ second-half show of strength as Van der Merwe, Coetzee and Kriel scored second-half tries.

Round 11: Bulls 40-22 Stormers
The Bulls were in no mood to suffer another defeat against the Stormers, powering home on the back of hooker Johan Grobbelaar’s try double and 20 points from Goosen.

Round 12: Dragons 10-31 Bulls
The Bulls had few concerns in Newport as Papier and Grobbelaar featured among the try-scorers to give their team a fourth successive URC win.

Round 13: Leinster 47-14 Bulls
Any hope of backing up the win against Dragons by challenging fellow competition heavyweights Leinster was dashed on a sobering night in Dublin. The Bulls conceded five second-half tries.

Round 14: Bulls 22-27 Munster
There was more misery for the Bulls against Irish opposition as they were undone by scrumhalf Conor Murray’s 73rd-minute try. Goosen had earlier been sent off.

Round 15: Bulls 61-24 Ospreys
There was no stopping the Bulls as they moved effortlessly through the gears to run in eight tries, including doubles for Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse.

Round 16: Bulls 40-34 Glasgow
The teams shared eight tries at Loftus Versfeld in an outstanding game as the Bulls withstood a strong second-half fightback from Glasgow. Chris Smith’s 20-point haul proved crucial.

Round 17: Bulls 56-35 Benetton
Another high-scoring encounter comfortably went the Bulls’ way, with Moodie claiming a hat-trick among the nine tries his team posted against adventurous opponents.

Round 18: Sharks 14-26 Bulls
The Bulls completed their regular-season fixtures with a win in Durban. Van der Merwe scored two second-half tries as they warmed up for the quarter-finals.

Quarter-final: Bulls 30-23 Benetton
Tries from Arendse (2) and Kriel and 15 points from the boot of Goosen helped the Bulls overcome a dogged display from the Italians.

Semi-final: Bulls 25-20 Leinster
Two tries from Petersen and another from Goosen, who contributed 15 points, helped the Bulls reach their second final in three years.

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

The post Road to the final: Bulls shoot to thrill appeared first on SA Rugby magazine.

Beaten finalists in 2022, the Bulls have bounced back from last season’s quarter-final defeat to secure a first home final. @Vodacom #URC
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