The Blue Bulls scored an emphatic 49-16 win over the Leopards at the Craven Week being played at the University of Johannesburg on Thursday.
The win virtually guarantees them a place in Saturday’s main match to decide the unofficial champions. They will probably play the Golden Lions. Both teams have been in sublime form this week.
Other unbeaten teams so far include Border and Free State, but neither has been as commanding in victory as the trans-Jukskei rivals. There were also victories on Thursday for Griquas – at 75-0 the biggest score of the week so far – the Griffons, Natal and Border.
The Leopards were scoreless in the second half as the Bulls pack set the tone and the backs were seldom shy to run it. In the end the Bulls scored seven tries with centre Stefan Watermeyer contributing 19 points via a try and all seven conversions.
The Leopards took the lead in the third minute via a penalty by centre Luan Steenkamp but the Blue Bulls struck back immediately, scoring two tries in quick succession. The first came from winger Simpiwe Ntinkulu and the second by Watermeyer, who converted both to give his side a 14-3 lead.
The Leopards did not appear affected by the early setback and continued to play positive rugby. They got themselves back into the game, via a second Steenkamp penalty and a try directly from the restart when winger Lance Hannie intercepted on halfway and ran in to score under the posts. Steenkamp converted to narrow the score to 14-13 in favour of the Bulls.
With six minutes remaining in the half, Steenkamp put the Leopards 16-14 ahead with his third penalty. Steenkamp then went from hero to villain when, attempting to clear under pressure behind his tryline, his kick hit the crossbar.
The ball was pounced on by Bulls centre Divan Kotze for a gift try. Watermeyer converted to restore the Bulls lead at 21-16 at halftime.
The Bulls extended their lead with a try by winger Vainon Willis early in the second half that was converted by Watermeyer to move the score to 28-16. With the Leopards down to 14 men, the Bulls attacked from their own half with Willis chipping and chasing to score his second try of the game.
The Bulls dominated the final 15 minutes adding further tries by No 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze and hooker Henri Bantjes.
All teams have a break tomorrow. The details of the nine fixtures will be released on Friday morning.
DAY FOUR RESULTS (half-time score in parenthesis):
Blue Bulls 49 (21) Leopards 16 (16)
Falcons 24 (16) Border 20 (17)
Kwazulu-Natal 34 (17) Eastern Province 7 (0)
Griffons 29 (14) Namibia 17 (3)
Griquas 75 (28) Border CD 0