Super Rugby: Waratahs repel Bulls fightback to claim 19-12 win in Sydney
By Ben Hampshire | @BH92. Last Updated: 19/04/14 1:29pm
Waratahs ended an eight-match losing streak to move fourth in the Super Rugby standings with a 19-12 victory over the Bulls at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
Waratahs full-back Israel Folau underlined his return from injury with a 28-second try as the hosts made an exhilarating start in Sydney.
Bernard Foley added eight points from the kicking tee as the Waratahs took a commanding 13-0 lead, before Jacques-Louis Potgieter wrestled the Bulls back into contention with two penalties on the cusp of half time.
The Bulls fly-half struck shortly after the break as they reduced their arrears to four and kept the Waratahs pinned back, but a yellow card for Grant Hattingh opened the door for Foley to guide the hosts to victory.
The hosts made a blistering start as Folau, who had not featured since Round 6 of the competition, latched onto the end of Adam Ashley-Cooper's offload and side-stepped two defenders to race home the first try of the match in the opening minute.
Bernard Foley was left with the easy job of kicking an extra two points from straight in front of the posts as the Waratahs made the Bulls pay for an early lapse in concentration.
When a rare Bulls foray down field ended in a knock-on, Waratahs briskly worked their way back into opposition territory, where Foley extended their advantage to 10 from the kicking tee.
Bulls full-back Ulrich Beyers was caught off his feet at the ruck, which allowed Waratahs fly-half Foley to add another three points to the hosts' tally.
Despite the Waratahs dominating possession throughout the opening period, Frans Ludeke's side clawed their way back into contention through the boot of Potgieter.
The Bulls fly-half bisected the uprights twice as they reduced their arrears to seven at the break, with momentum swinging in favour of the visitors.
Last year's semi-finalists continued where they left off after the break as JJ Engelbrecht and Dean Greyling probed the Waratahs defensive line.
The Bulls soon drew a penalty from the Waratahs and Potgieter brought them within four with his third strike of the night as the hosts were suppressed.
Potgieter failed to land an audacious drop-goal attempt soon after, but despite his miss the Bulls seized control of the match as they worked through the phases with fluency.
Pressure continued to mount for the Waratahs, who were unable to utilise their large quantities of possession, but after 46 scoreless minutes Foley offered the hosts a reprieve as he extended their lead to seven points with his third successful kick.
Hattingh's high tackle on Michael Hooper shifted momentum back in favour of the home side as the Bulls No 8 went sent to sin bin, allowing Foley to bisect the uprights once more.
Despite being reduced to 14 men, the Bulls battled on bravely and eventually drew a penalty from the Waratahs, which replacement kicker Handre Pollard slotted through the posts.
With their deficit still standing at seven points as the claxon sounded, the Bulls had no option but to throw everything at the Waratahs, but the hosts held out to claim a fifth victory of the season.
The Bulls travel to Perth next weekend to face Western Force in the hope of salvaging some pride from their tour of Australasia, having now lost all three matches.
Super Rugby 2014 Round 10
Sharks retained their place at the Super Rugby summit with a 19-8 victory over the Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday.
Rock-bottom Stormers host the Lions at Newlands looking to pick up just their second Super Rugby win of the season.
Sharks will look to extend their lead at the Super Rugby summit when they host the Cheetahs in Durban.