Bulls secure superb Champions Cup win at Bristol despite missing Bok stars

Bulls secure superb Champions Cup win at Bristol despite missing Bok stars

The Bulls' chances of reaching the Investec Champions Cup knockout stages were given a massive boost with an impressive 31-17 win over Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate.

Bristol were overpowered by a physical, unrelenting Bulls team, conceding tries to wing Sergeal Petersen, prop Khutha Mchunu, flanker Elrigh Louw and hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels, with fly-half Johan Goosen kicking three conversions and a penalty, and centre David Kriel landing one conversion.

Bulls™ bonus-point triumph owed everything to their overwhelming scrummaging superiority, with Bristol restricted to tries from scrum-half Kieran Marmion, wing Gabriel Ibitoye and number eight Magnus Bradbury, plus one AJ MacGinty conversion.

The Gallagher Premiership side could have no complaints, while the Bulls underlined credentials as a force in the 24-team competition.

Bristol were without injured internationals Callum Sheedy, Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler, while Bulls boss Jake White opted to rest his South Africa World Cup-winning quartet of Willie le Roux, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie and Marco van Staden.

The Bulls made a bright start, with Petersen testing Bristol™s defence through a powerful touchline break, before Goosen kicked a 40-metre penalty that opened the scoring.

Goosen made a temporary exit three minutes later, though, being yellow-carded by referee Mathieu Raynal for a deliberate knock-on after Bristol looked to attack through Marmion and flanker Dan Thomas.

Bristol found themselves under early scrum pressure, conceding two penalties in quick succession, before Bulls™ physical power helped carve out an opening for Petersen, with his clinical 15th-minute try being converted by Kriel.

But the home side responded impressively when MacGinty and centre James Williams combined strongly in midfield, allowing Marmion an unopposed run to the line. MacGinty™s conversion cut the deficit to three points.

Williams was soon heavily involved in the action again, but this time at the other end of the pitch as his challenge on Bulls lock Reinhardt Ludwig prevented a try.

Bristol™s scrummaging problems were underlined nine minutes before the break when rugby director Pat Lam substituted both starting props Sam Grahamslaw and George Kloska, replacing them with Jake Woolmore and Max Lahiff.

It could not prevent Bristol from immediately conceding a fourth scrum penalty, yet the Bulls could not capitalise as they took a 10-7 advantage into half-time.

Lahiff was sin-binned for a scrummaging offence early in the second period, and the Bulls struck near the end of his 10 minutes off the pitch.

A flowing counter-attack was briefly halted by Bristol, but the Bulls had sufficient momentum and Mchunu crashed over for an outstanding try that Goosen converted.

There was no way back for Bristol, and the Bulls went up a gear to leave their opponents floundering by scoring two tries in three minutes.

Louw applied a brilliant finish following a flowing move, then Wessels intercepted Bristol captain Steven Luatua™s pass on the halfway line and sprinted 50 metres to score.

Ibitoye and Bradbury pounced for scores during the closing minutes, but the Bulls were comfortably home and dry.

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