Hooker Scarra Ntubeni was shown a straight red card as the Vodacom Bulls secured a bonus-point 34-13 (halftime 17-13) Carling Currie Cup victory over DHL Western Province at the iconic DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Friday evening.
The turning point in the game came shortly before halftime when Ntubeni was referred by referee Cwengile Jadezweni to TMO Egon Seconds for a high tackle on Bulls scrumhalf Zak Burger, with Seconds inferring that Ntubeni be shown a straight red card with Province down by just four points.
The Bulls ran in four tries through wing Johan Kriel, hooker Johan Grobbelaar, Burger and veteran Cornel Hendricks while flyhalf Johan Goosen landed three conversions and two penalties with replacement Chris Smith adding the fourth conversion.
Province opened the scoring with a try from scrumhalf Paul de Wet with flyhalf Tim Swiel converting and adding two penalties for an unhappy return to the iconic Newlands venue.
The match began at a frenetic pace with Province landing the first punch in the big North-South derby with flanker Johan du Toit breaking through the Bulls defence before passing inside to De Wet, who went over under the poles untouched with Swiel converting after just two minutes.
But the Bulls hit back immediately when straight from the kick-off, Goosen spotted some space out wide and lofted a long pass out to Kriel and the tall winger went over in the corner untroubled. Goosen landed the touchline conversion to level the scores with just five minutes on the clock.
Before 10 minutes was up on the clock, the Bulls were pinged at the ruck and Swiel stepped up to hand Province a three-point lead with his first penalty goal. However, a mistake from Province in their own 22m area handed the Bulls and easy score.
Ntubeni threw the lineout ball long and over his own players with man of the match Grobbelaar gobbling up the ball and bursting through to score next to the poles and with Goosen converting, the Bulls claimed a four point lead.
Goosen extended the Bulls lead to seven points with his first penalty after Swiel had missed a relatively easy three-pointer just five minutes earlier. But Swiel made up for his faux-par, landing his second penalty just moments later.
Then came the moment of madness when Ntubeni went crashing into a tackle with Burger but Province hung on for the remainder of the half with Andre-Hugo Venter replacing Seabelo Senatla.
Despite spending more than 40 minutes with only 14 men, the home side fought valiantly to hold the Bulls the way they did and frustrated the visitors when on attack, winning numerous penalties at ruck time. Province had a great chance to snatch the lead early in the second stanza but No. 8 Evan Roos lost the ball forward when reaching for the tryline.
Jake White’s men piled on the pressure and eventually the wall broke and Burger danced through a vacant defensive slot to score the third try of the night. Goosen landed his second penalty of the evening with 10 minutes remaining in the match after the Bulls failed to breach the Province defence.
However, right wing Hendricks showed some class in the closing stages of the game when he danced through the home side’s defence to score his seventh try of the campaign and seal the bonus point for then men from Pretoria and send his side top of the log.
DHL Western Province – Try: Paul de Wet; Conversion: Tim Swiel; Penalties: Swiel (2).
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Johan Kriel, Johan Grobbelaar, Zak Burger, Cornel Hendricks; Conversions: Johan Goosen (3), Chris Smith; Penalties: Goosen (2).