Marcell Coetzee. (Bulls/Twitter)
- Marcell Coetzee was again the man of the moment as the Bulls pushed past Ulster 34-16 in front of their Loftus faithful.
- Ulster’s Duane Vermeulen was immense at the breakdown but went off early, which seemed to turn the tide.
- Madosh Tambwe, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Johan Grobbelaar also continued their URC scoring runs on Saturday.
Marcell Coetzee continued his fabulous form in the Bulls’ 34-16 win over Irish giants Ulster at Loftus in the United Rugby Championship (URC) on Saturday.
The Bulls went on a R25 ticket drive for 25 000 fans to attend, which seemed to work a treat as spectators filled Loftus to 19 436 people, far better than the previously mandated 2 000.
They then treated their fans to an exhibition of clinical finishing, especially in the second half, after an arm wrestle of a first.
AS IT HAPPENED | URC: Bulls 34-16
Ulster lost Ethan McIlroy to concussion after only two minutes after clashing in the air with opposite Bulls winger Madosh Tambwe.
Jake White went with the “double six” of openside flankers Cyle Brink and Coetzee but they couldn’t neutralise the Duane Vermeulen breakdown threat effectively enough to cancel the Springbok No 8’s threat.
What’s more, Ulster hooker Brad Roberts made himself more of a nuisance than anyone in visiting white, adding to the Bulls’ breakdown angst.
Roberts, who was called up to the Wales national team squad late last year and made his debut against the Springboks, was born in Durban and qualified to play for Wales through his paternal grandmother, who comes from Llandysul in Ceredigion.
The 26-year-old also played for the Sharks at Under-19 but chose to chance his arm in Ireland, where he has grown in repute.
All-round, though, the teams seemed so similar in style that they cancelled each other out, with flyhalf Chris Smith trading penalties with Ulster scrumhalf Nathan Doak in the first half – the latter getting more attempts for a 9-3 lead.
Tambwe wanted to spark the second half into life when he combined with Kurt-Lee Arendse on the left, beat a couple of defenders but lost the ball as he was reaching for the try line.
The Bulls kept pounding, though, and finally broke the white Ulster wall when Coetzee crashed over the pile of bodies for the first try of the game.
The Springbok loose-forward must have drawn plenty of satisfaction from that score, as both Bulls skipper and playing against his former Ulstermen.
The touchdown was Coetzee’s eighth try of this year’s URC, tying Seabelo Senatla at the top of the standings at the time of writing.
Coetzee must surely be in Springbok reckoning for the inbound Wales Tests this winter.
Vermeulen, meanwhile, received an ovation from his former Bulls faithful as he left the field relatively early after 50 minutes following a knock sustained after some typical breakdown turnover industry.
Tambwe, who is in the hottest scoring run of his Bulls career, scored his fifth try of the URC season after rounding off an opportunistic Bulls pounce on an Ulster passing mistake.
The Kinshasa kingpin muscled his way over the line, this time making no mistake with the grounding.
But Ulster, as they did against the Stormers in Cape Town last weekend, remained in the fight when they pulled a try back through first centre Luke Marshall.
However, momentum swung back the hosts’ way when Ulster lock Kieran Treadwell got sin-binned for a hit shot on Arendse.
The Bulls cashed in immediately with a driving maul try from the resulting penalty, hooker Johan Grobbelaar touching down from the back – his eighth of the season, too.
The home side had to negotiate the final seven minutes without their captain Coetzee, who was yellow-carded for a similar offence as Treadwell.
But Arendse intercepted from within his own half and cantered to the try line for the Bulls’ fourth try, which drew the curtain on the contest.
VIEW LOG | United Rugby Championship
Bulls – (3) 34
Tries: Marcell Coetzee, Madosh Tambwe, Johan Grobbelaar, Kurt-Lee Arendse
Conversions: Chris Smith (2), Morne Steyn (2)
Penalties: Chris Smith (3)
Ulster – (9) 16
Try: Luke Marshall
Conversion: Nathan Doak
Penalties: Nathan Doak (3)