The win marked their first in three matches on tour, and ensured that they remain in the top six on the log.

The first half was a tight tussle with both teams’ only points coming from penalty goals, with Benetton flyhalf Tomas Albornoz slotting three to one by his Vodacom Bulls’ counterpart Chris Smith, for a 9-3 lead.

Both teams found their rhythm after the break and attacked at will, resulting in a humdinger of a half. The Vodacom Bulls broke out of the blocks quickly and finished the match with a bang, scoring five tries to one by the hosts, which saw them seal the well-deserved victory.

Benetton showed their determination from the outset with the team getting close to the tryline twice within the first five minutes, but they were denied by vital turnovers by the visitors.

This proved to be the pattern for first half as both sides strung together good attacking phases, but were unable to convert their chances into points due to a combination of the solid defence and mistakes at crucial times.

Albornoz kicked his first penalty goal in the 11th minute and another in the 20th minute to hand his side a 6-0 lead.

The Vodacom Bulls’ only points of the half were scored by a three-pointer by Smith in the 35th minute to reduce their deficit to 6-3, but this was cancelled out by Albornoz a minute later as he slotted over his third penalty goal for a 9-3 halftime lead.

Ruan Nortje goes over for the first of five Vodacom Bulls tries against Benetton.

Ruan Nortje goes over for the first of five Vodacom Bulls tries against Benetton.

Smith scored the first points of the second half two minutes after play resumed and they built on this with a try by lock Ruan Nortje in the 43rd minute after he gathered a well-timed pass by scrumhalf Embrose Papier to take a 13-9 lead.

Benetton struck back with a penalty goal in 47th minute after losing out on a golden opportunity to score close to the tryline, but this was short-lived as the Pretoria side scored their second try minutes later compliments of No 8 Elrigh Louw, who crashed over following some strong attacking play. Smith added the extra two points for a 20-12 lead.

The hosts responded with a try of their own in the 54th minute as their SA-born scrumhalf Dewald Duvenage picked up the ball at the base of a ruck and passed it to flanker Manuel Zuliani, who crossed the chalk.

Albornoz added the extra two and kicked a penalty goal in the 57th minute to push the hosts back into 22-20 lead, but Smith hit back with a three-pointer in the 63rd minute to see his side take a narrow 23-22 lead.

Vodacom Bulls replacement hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels snuck through in the corner for their third try in the 72nd minute, and replacement flyhalf Morne Steyn added the conversion to nudge them further ahead, by 30-22, in the dying minutes.

The visitors added another two tries before the final whistle to seal their bonus-point with, Vodacom Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee forcing his way through the defence from some strong forward play, before replacement wing Stravino Jacobs added another from some enterprising attacking play, and Steyn converted both to seal the team a well-deserved 44-22 victory.


Benetton 22 (9) – Try: Manuel Zuliani. Conversion: Tomas Albornoz. Penalty goals: Albornoz (5).

Vodacom Bulls 44 (3) - Tries: Ruan Nortje, Elrigh Louw, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Marcell Coetzee, Stravino Jacobs. Conversions: Chris Smith (2), Morne Steyn (3). Penalty goals: Smith (3).