Northern Bulls secure late victory over Central Cheetahs in 'unwatchable' match
Last Updated: 22/04/17 7:51pm
A minute of magic in a mediocre Super Rugby match earned Northern Bulls a 20-14 win over Central Cheetahs on Saturday with former Springbok coach Nick Mallett calling most of the play "unwatchable".
Centre Jesse Kriel won a South African derby that offered little entertainment or excitement with a try six minutes from time in Pretoria.
Turnover ball in midfield gave the home team another attacking opportunity and Jamba Ulengo and Burger Odendaal made ground before Kriel cut inside to score.
Tian Schoeman, deputising at fly-half for midweek training ground casualty Handre Pollard, converted to complete the scoring at thinly populated Loftus Versfeld stadium.
The forward momentum that brought the decisive score was in direct contrast to what SuperSport TV analyst Mallett labelled the "windscreen wiper" rugby of the Bulls.
"They kept attacking from side to side without gaining much ground. On one occasion they retained possession through 19 phases and made about 10 metres.
"It was very frustrating to watch and they are going to have their hands full with two New Zealand sides (Canterbury Crusaders and Otago Highlanders) coming next."
Fellow analyst Joel Stransky, whose extra-time drop goal won the 1995 Rugby World Cup for South Africa against New Zealand, was equally scathing.
"Many of the Bulls' attempts to attack were woeful. They were unstructured and inaccurate," he said.
As was the case last weekend when they defeated the Argentine Jaguares, the Bulls won because they emerged as the better of two poor sides.
"We made a lot of mistakes," admitted heavily bruised skipper and hooker Adriaan Strauss. "There were a lot of errors.
"Too many of our attacks were lateral and we struggled to find rhythm," added the forward who retired as Springboks captain at the end of last season.
For the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs it was the usual story of being unable to defend a lead, having been 11-3 in front at half-time.
They were 14-13 ahead when Kriel struck to keep the Bulls second in the Africa 1 conference with 14 points, 12 less than leaders Western Stormers.
With the Stormers and Golden Lions set to win the two Africa leagues and reach the quarter-finals, only the best runners-up from the two sections will join them.
And the Coastal Sharks, second in Africa 2, have eight points more than the Bulls with a game in hand entering the second half of the regular season.
Replacement flanker Jacques Potgieter scored the Bulls' other try and Schoeman - bound for Bordeaux later this year - slotted two conversions and two penalties.
Loose forward Paul Schoeman scored a pushover try for the Cheetahs and fly-half Niel Marais kicked three penalties.