Morné Steyn saves Bulls from Edinburgh’s second-half attack

The veteran Morné Steyn was the hero in the Bulls’ 33-31 bonus-point triumph over Edinburgh on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld in a tense United Rugby Championship match. The Bulls survived a last-ditch penalty attempt by Edinburgh.

Steyn kicked a difficult three-pointer from close to the touchline around the 10-meter line, and it appeared that the Pretoria team had done enough to win the match.

However, the Scottish team displayed usual fighting spirit to win the last kickoff and were granted a disputed penalty well inside the Bulls’ half when home wing Stravino Jacobs was deemed to have committed a high tackle on Edinburgh center Mark Bennett.

Henry Immelman, who was born in South Africa, stepped up to attempt to win the game for his team, but he sliced his long attempt wide to the right, and the home crowd exploded in jubilation.

After Jake White’s squad jumped off to a 15-0 lead, the Bulls’ flow was disturbed by Edinburgh beginning in the 20th minute.

The Bulls controlled the physical war up front, with players like captain Marcell Coetzee, No. 8 Elrigh Louw, lock Ruan Nortje, and hooker Johan Grobbelaar dominating early exchanges.

Grobbelaar scored the first try after flank Ruan Vermaak passed to Coetzee, who then offloaded in the tackle for Grobbelaar to score.

And after Edinburgh’s co-captain Grant Gilchrist was yellow-carded for numerous infractions, the Bulls seized the opportunity when Louw charged over from a lineout move.

White may have believed victory was assured at 15-0, but Edinburgh refused to lay down. They were dealt a blow prior to begin when flyhalf Blair Kinghorn withdrew, and his substitute Jaco van der Walt left the game in the 12th minute with a concussion.

Youngster Charlie Savala entered the game and aided his team in mounting a valiant comeback as Edinburgh displayed their legendary ball-in-hand strategy.

It paid off as the Bulls missed too many tackles, and after James Lang’s line break, Savala scored.

Rapid wing Darcy Graham scored a second touchdown after more great phase-play by the visiting team, bringing the score to 15-14 at halftime.

White would have made it obvious at halftime that the Bulls needed to retain the ball better and tighten up defensively, and it paid rewards immediately upon the second-half kickoff.

Hendricks won the ball in the air, and Nortje came close to scoring before the ball was returned to Hendricks to score.

However, Edinburgh never gave up. In a farcical blunder by the Bulls, the ball rebounded into play from the uprights after a Mark Bennett penalty attempt, and Graham seized on the opportunity to kick ahead and earn his hat-trick.

Jacobs burst through after a tremendous run by prop Simphiwe Matanzima, and the Bulls, pushed on by their fans on a sweltering afternoon in Pretoria, appeared to have clinched the victory.

Again, coach Mike Blair would have been pleased with his team’s attitude as Edinburgh seized the lead for the first time when Damien Hoyland scored after fine hands in the backfield.

With five minutes remaining and Scotland leading 31-30 with ten minutes remaining, Immelman attempted a long-range shot but missed.

The Bulls forwards worked up their sleeves to earn several scrum penalties, the second of which was within range for Steyn, who once again shown his brilliance by kicking the ball over for a 33-31 advantage.

Then, when it came down to Immelman again after the buzzer, he was unable to convert the game-winning field goal.


Johan Grobbelaar, Elrigh Louw, Cornal Hendricks, and Stravino Jacobs scored tries for the Bulls (33). Chris Smith converts: (2). Smith (2) and Morné Steyn (2) are assessed penalties (1).

Charlie Savala, Darcy Graham (three), and Damien Hoyland scored tries for Edinburgh in their 31st victory. Conversions: Mark Bennett (3).

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