Matfield makes impact in Bulls return
February 2, 2014
Victor Matfield impressed on his return to rugby © Getty Images
Victor Matfield made an immediate impact when he took to the field as a replacement as his Bulls suffered a 26-19 loss to the Stormers in a thrilling Super Rugby trial match on Saturday.
Matfield come on with 30 minutes remaining to the delight of the crowd, replacing Grant Hatting. He started with a bang, stopping a Stormers runner dead in his tracks and looking at ease in the lineouts, where he took his own ball comfortably and even stole another as his team was in trouble inside their own 22.
Stormers replacement wing Scott Van Breda secured victory with a try in the right-hand corner moments before full-time, bringing to an end a match that had an almost 15 000-strong crowd at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on the edge of their seats.
The two teams will be satisfied with the hit out, as they both had ample chance to put in practice all their pre-season plans in a high-pressure environment.
The scoreboard clicked into action in the fifth minute when the Stormers flanker Siya Kolisi went over for the first of his two tries scored from behind a driving maul.
The Bulls' first two tries also came off lineout mauls when first Dean Greyling and then - just before the break - Jono Ross barged over after the pack had already battered the defence. The Bulls led 12-5 and - much to the delight of the many Limpopo fans - looked the stronger outfit. However the Stormers hit back early in the second half through Kolisi's second five-pointer, levelling the scores at 12-12.
The Bulls regained the lead when another returning Springboks player, Arno Botha, went on a bullocking run and took two defenders with him over the line to score his team's third try. Soon after scoring, however, the prop had to be carried off the field with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
Francois Hougaard was given a yellow card for a professional foul on his line and Demetri Catrakilis took advantage, slipping through the gaping hole between nine and ten to get the scores back to level.
It was all Stormers from the point on as wave after wave of attack drained the Bulls' defence. After a good five minutes of attacking inside the Bulls 22, Van Breda finally sealed the match. The Bulls have quite a bit of work to do on their tight phases before the tournament proper starts in two weeks' time, while the Stormers looked solid in defence and attacked with flair.
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