The victory for the Pretoria outfit saw them jump from sixth place on the Vodacom URC log to fourth after nine rounds and retain their unbeaten record at home this season, while the Emirates Lions are now in 10th place courtesy of a losing bonus point.

The Johannesburgers defended for most of the first half and managed to force errors by the Vodacom Bulls, who delivered consistent waves of attack, and the Emirates Lions’ ill-discipline eventually saw the hosts take a 13-12 lead going into the break.

The Vodacom Bulls, meanwhile, found their rhythm in the second half and capitalised on key opportunities – something they battled to do in the first half - and it was a penalty goal by Johan Goosen with a minute to play that pushed them into the lead, only for Jordan Hendrikse to miss a very difficult attempt moments later which could have handed the visitors the victory.

The Emirates Lions showed their intent from the outset as Marius Louw darted through in the fifth minute thanks to enterprising attack and good support play after a great break by Sanele Nohamba, and this led to the visitors’ captain touching down for a 5-0 lead.

The Pretoria side hit back minutes later with a Goosen penalty goal to reduce the deficit to two points, but this was short-lived as Louw scored his brace in the 18th minute as he snatched the ball from a long lineout throw to dash through, pushing the visitors into an encouraging 12-3 lead.

The Vodacom Bulls created two possible opportunities to score before and after the second Emirates Lions second try, but they were held out by the effective defence.

The home side eventually managed to break through in the 25th minute when Akker van der Merwe forced his way over the chalk after some strong forward play, and Goosen’s conversion again reduced their deficit to two points.

They let another possible try-scoring chance escape soon after from a knock-on close to the tryline, but despite this, the hosts had the last say in the half with Goosen nudging the team into the lead with his second penalty goal two minutes from halftime for a narrow 13-12 lead.

The Vodacom Bulls picked up where they left off early in the second half with Embrose Papier snatching the ball from the air and dotting it down and the conversion pushed them 20-12 ahead. Nohamba, however, hit back for the visitors with a well-timed drop goal and then added a penalty goal to make it a two-point game.

The home side fought back with their third try compliments of Celimpilo Gumede in the 59th minute, but this was cancelled out soon after as Morgan Naude picked up a loose ball in front of the hosts’ tryline to crash over for their third try to again stay within range of the opposition on the scoreboard.

The Emirates Lions forced their way back into the lead with seven minutes to play as Hendrikse slotted a long-range penalty goal for a 28-27 lead, after which the match ended on a knife’s edge as Goosen landed a crucial penalty goal go 30-28 up with a minute to play.

Hendrikse had a final shot at goal for a valuable away-win for the Emirates Lions after the siren, but his attempt proved unsuccessful, which sealed the significant win for the hosts.

The Vodacom URC will now take a short break before the action resumes with round 10 on the weekend of 16/17/18 February, when the Vodacom Bulls will travel south on the N1 to take on the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg, while the Hollywoodbets Sharks will host the DHL Stormers in Durban.


Vodacom Bulls 30 (13) – Tries: Akker van der Merwe, Embrose Papier, Celimpilo Gumede. Conversions: Johan Goosen (3). Penalty goals: Goosen (3).

Emirates Lions 28 (12) – Tries: Marius Louw (2), Morgan Naude. Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (2). Penalty goals: Nohamba (1), Jordan Hendrikse (1). Drop goal: Nohamba.