Super Rugby Semi-Final: Bulls 23-26 Brumbies
Critics curse 'un-Bulls-like' penalty decisions
July 28, 2013
The Bulls' Morne Steyn kicks at goal, Bulls v Brumbies, Super Rugby, Super Rugby semi-final, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, July 27, 2013
Morne Steyn kicked six penalty goals © Getty Images

South African rugby critics are amazed at the refusal of the Bulls to kick penalty goals during the latter stages of their Super Rugby semi-final loss to the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Former Springboks five-eighth Naas Botha, a prolific goal-kicker, said Bulls ace Morne Steyn should have told his captain that he was going to kick the points and the team could start again, while former Springboks coach Nick Mallett described the decision to turn down three penalty kicks as "strangely un-Bulls-like".

Brumbies coach Jake White said the decisions in the final quarter had boosted his side as they sought a berth in the Super Rugby final against the Chiefs in Hamilton. "The players said they grew a bit of a leg on the basis that they weren't going for poles," he said. "It almost, I suppose, helped us a bit because we kept saying, 'they are leaving the door open'. "I don't know what the reason for that was, considering that they took [Chilliboy] Ralepelle off and they had a new hooker, and then you have the best goal-kicker in the competition on the field," he said.

But White said the win at Loftus Versfeld had shown what his team was capable of producing. "We came here and no-one thought we could win at Loftus. Now, all of a sudden, the hurdle gets bigger again. They have just done everything I have asked of them this year - beat the Lions, won the Australian conference and beat the Bulls at Loftus. Who knows? Maybe if they just prepare and get their minds right we could be up for a surprise."

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said his captain, Dewald Potgieter, believed the Brumbies had pinned the hosts in their own quarter and his side, by going for lineouts, could keep the tourists in their own half. "He felt like keeping them down there, and if you look at the whole evening getting out of our half - we weren't on top of that area of our game. His feeling was to keep them down there and the pressure if on them as they can't get out of their half."

Potgieter said: "We tried to spend most of the time in their territory and it was working for us right up to the end; when we took the penalty and we were back in our own half. We just could not exit from there. We'd been struggling the whole match with our exits, so that was basically the reasoning behind that. We were up against a side that was good in the set-pieces; we knew it was going to be a big battle.

The Brumbies stunned the Bulls in Pretoria (video available only in Australia)
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