Bulls edge past Benetton in United Rugby Championship quarter-final

Willie Le Roux was part of the winning Bulls side
Willie Le Roux was part of the winning Bulls side

Bulls 30-23 Benetton, Loftus Versfeld

Kurt-Lee Arendse scored a double as Bulls edged out Benetton 30-23 in the quarter-final of the United Rugby Championship at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

They will face either Ulster or Leinster in Pretoria next week.

Arendse double meant the South African franchise had a nervy 17-8 lead at the end of the opening half but Benetton made a brave comeback with tries from Tomas Albornoz and Malakai Fekitoa but eventually fell short by seven points.

Bulls got the mark early in the first minute as Willie le Roux sent a chip allowing Arendse to touchdown and John Goosen followed with the conversion to make it 7-0. Goosen looked threatening to score his second but firm defence from Benetton kept him away from scoring.

Rhyno Smith's penalty goal in the 10th minute got Benetton off the mark and Onisi Ratave thought he extended the lead for the visitors but his try was denied due to an off side from Federico Ruzza. Nevertheless, Arendse completed his second try of the game game before leaving the field with a Head Injury Assessment.

Benetton did make a comeback as quick passing allowed Ratave to crossover in the 32nd minute making it 14-8 before Goosen kicked a penalty goal to take Bulls to a 17-8 lead by the end of the opening half.

Smith and Goosen traded penalties early in the second half as the gap between the two teams remained at nine points before Tomas Albornoz spotted a gap in Bulls' defence to go over and Smith's conversion made it a two point game.

The start of the final quarter saw Embrose Papier sending Daniel David Kriel over the line but Fekitoa went over in the corner as the scoreline became 27-23 with 14 minutes left in the game. As the closing stage of the game kicked-off, Goosen kicked a much needed penalty goal which proved enough as Bulls completed a seven point victory.

Team line up:

Bulls: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sebastian de Klerk, 13 David Kriel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.

Reserves: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Reinhardt Ludwig, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Sergeal Petersen.

Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Tommaso Menoncello, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Onisi Ratave, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Alessandro Izekor, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Edoardo Iachizzi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Bautista Bernasconi, 1 Thomas Gallo.

Reserves: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Giosué Zilocchi, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Niccolò Cannone, 21 Lorenzo Cannone, 22 Alessandro Garbisi, 23 Jacob Umaga.