David Kriel scored a hat-trick of tries for the SA side.
The Bulls came out on top in their United Rugby Championship showdown against Italian side, Zebre, winning 54-29 on Saturday afternoon at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma.
The win was the Bulls’ second of the season and the first of their four-week tour of the UK and Europe. The game was a high-scoring affair with a total of 12 tries scored between the teams.
Bulls utility back David Kriel’s hat-trick was the highlight of the match and there were braces for his teammates, hooker Akker van der Merwe and winger Devon Williams.
The Bulls started the game by absorbing the pressure that their hosts put them through but cracked when Jacobo Bianchi scored Zebre’s first try.
Two quick tires
The Pretoria side then immediately went on the attack looking to bounce back. Momentum was with the visitors as their forwards set the tone for them. Hooker Van der Merwe controlled the ball well from the back of the maul and dotted down with Johan Goosen adding the extra two points. That put the Bulls in front with the score 7-5.
Jake White’s side then started warming up in the game and involving their backs more. They dominated possession and recycled the ball beautifully with Goosen pulling the strings. This period was capped off by a lovely team try, finished by debutant Sergeal Petersen, who received the ball out wide from Stedman Gans. Goosen once again kicked in the conversion.
The home side was under pressure and not coping with the Bulls forward pack’s dominance. Zebre started conceding penalties, and that saw the Bulls taking them to the corner as they were on top in the lineouts. The Bulls made their power in the lineout count when Van der Merwe got his brace from a maul. The extras from Goosen saw the Bulls lead 21-5 at the half-hour mark.
The away side was then vulnerable afterwards, and their defence was in sixes and sevens when Zebre went on the charge. Zebre flyhalf Gerónimo Prisciantelli stepped his way through the Bulls to get a converted try. He then kicked a penalty right before halftime, but the Bulls went into the interval leading 21-15.
As Zebre went into the break with momentum on their side, the Bulls needed to kill their fire early in the second half. Within two minutes of the restart the Bulls scored their bonus point try through Williams and then eight minutes later Kriel got his first try. That seemed to put the game to bed but the Italian side refused to go away and showed their attacking threat when Scott Gregory scored a converted try.
With the score 35-22 with after 60 minutes, the Bulls needed to manage and close it out.
The home though side closed the gap to six points thanks to fullback Lorenzo Pani’s converted score but their hopes of a comeback were short-lived as Kriel got his second of the game. In the 74th minute, Williams got his brace with Goosen kicking his sixth conversion of the match and bowed out with Chris Smith replacing.
Kriel eventually got his hat-trick try with Smith kicking in the extra two points to give the Bulls a 54-29 victory.
Tries: Akker van der Merwe (2), Sergeal Petersen, Devon Williams(2), David Kriel (3)
Con: Johan Goosen (6)Chris Smith
Tries: Jacobo Bianchi, Gerónimo Prisciantelli, Scott Gregory, Lorenzo Pani
Con: Gerónimo Prisciantelli (3)
Pen: Gerónimo Prisciantelli