Bulls defenders close the gap on Tongan Thor. Picture: AFP
Bulls defenders close the gap on Tongan Thor. Picture: AFP

Reds’ High Veldt hoodoo stretches to 18 years

The hoodoo in Pretoria now stretches to 18 years for the Queensland Reds after their impatient, error-prone ways fed the Bulls' comprehensive 32-17 victory.

The Bulls were more dynamic with their running, more clinical with the way they finished chances and more smothering in their defence against the limited ideas in attack from the Queenslanders.

The five-tries-to-one result was a fair summation of the Bulls' dominance at their high-altitude home at Loftus Versfeld because two more were thwarted on the tryline in the first half.

No Reds side has now won there since a young Steve Kefu starred in 2001 when Bob the Builder's Can We Fix It was a hit on Australia's music charts.

What the Reds can't seem to fix is being their own worst enemies with unforced errors.

When the Reds had their best try-scoring chance of the first half off a Tate McDermott intercept, the chance was blown 15m out with a sloppy, bouncing clearance from a ruck that was knocked on at his bootlaces by flyhalf Bryce Hegarty.

A 5m lineout chance was bungled earlier, McDermott knocked on after a nice Jack Hardy dash, JP Smith made two errors and two defenders were pushed off in the lead-up to the first Bulls' try.

When fullback Hamish Stewart was penalised for tossing the ball away to prevent a Bulls' lineout throw, Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard marched his team upfield with a kick to touch that became the platform for a lineout drive try for flanker Marco van Staden.

That was the Bulls' second try for their 13-3 break at halftime.

There were only two flickers that the Reds might even be in the contest, from the kick-off and when impressive skipper Samu Kerevi closed the scores to 20-10 after 57 minutes with the first of his two tries.

When the Bulls were sloppy from the kick-off and conceded Hegarty a penalty goal, it hinted that it might be one of those ordinary nights for the hosts.

It wasn't. The Bulls were on their game with long-haired Springbok lock Rudolph Snyman, No.8 Paul Schoeman and inside centre Burger Odendaal, 110m off 10 runs, powering their side ahead.

The Bulls played up-tempo and went wide and it seemed to catch the Reds off-guard because it was far from a kick-first Bulls' game.

The sloppiness continued from the Reds at the opening of the second half when the kick-off was not secured and the Bulls turned it into a Pollard try for 20-3.

The Reds' scrum forced five scrum penalties but had wobblies of its own.

Even when Wallabies lock Izack Rodda stole back-to-back lineouts, one was wasted by winger Aidan Toua being penalised for not releasing when the ball was not efficiently recycled.

The first Kerevi try was the one sustained Reds' passage of the match.

McDermott snapped out passes from the base of seven quick rucks to softened up the Bulls so that Hegarty could direct an inside ball to charging Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.

A perfect off-load from Salakaia-Loto put Kerevi over but that blink of hope at 20-10 lasted just three minutes before the Bulls were in again for the game-clincher.

An excellent inside running angle from Kerevi off Hegarty produced another try but it was all over.

Centre Kerevi, flanker Salakaia-Loto, prop Taniela Tupou and lock Izack Rodda did the best work for the Reds while replacement winger Jock Campbell made one nice run when making his Queensland debut for the final 15 minutes.

BULLS 32 (L Gqoboka, H Pollard, M van Staden, H Liebenberg, J Stighling tries; H Pollard 2 conv, pen goal) bt REDS 17 (S Kerevi 2 tries; B Hegarty 2 conv, pen goal)