SOUTH AFRICAN rugby side — the Vodacom Bulls — warmed up for this season’s Super Rugby campaign in style with a dominant 38-19 win over their rivals, the Emirates Lions in a high-profile Old Mutual Super Rugby Weekend pre-season clash at the National Sports Stadium yesterday. BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE

VODACOM BULLS . . . . . . . . . . . . (21) 38
EMIRATES LIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . (10) 19

Vodacom Bulls lock Ruben van Heerden (with ball) carries the ball into the Emirates Lions territory during their pre-season clash at the National Sports Stadium yesterday

Vodacom Bulls lock Ruben van Heerden (with ball) carries the ball into the Emirates Lions territory during their pre-season clash at the National Sports Stadium yesterday

After competing at the inaugural pre-season event last year, the Bulls this time around took the opportunity to identify young players ripe for the big stage.

Bulls coach Nollis Marais played two different teams in the two halves and rested several top players, including Springboks prop Trevor Nyakane, as he identified at least seven players ready for elevation this season.

“We always knew it was going to be a tough game playing youngsters in the first half. What we aimed to get out of the game was to see how the youngsters would do and who can play Super Rugby or not. I think there are seven guys who showed that they can make the next step and there are others who need a year in the Currie cup,” he said in his post-match interview.

In a stop-start half, the youthful Lions side were the first to successfully cross the whitewash, but Lions flyhalf Jianluc Cilliers failed to convert.

The Bulls fought back right away after being awarded a penalty try before further tries by Namibian number eight Renaldo Bothma and flank Nic De Jager, which were all converted by youthful flyhalf Tony Jantjies, ensuring the Bulls took a 21-10 lead into the break.

With a completely new team in the second half, the Bulls — who were superior at the breakdown — needed 15 minutes to extend their lead when tearaway winger Jamba Ulengo dotted down for the Pretoria-based outfit.

Number eight Hanroe Liebenberg and flanker Shaun Adendorf were on either side of a converted try by Lions’ Hacjivah Dyamani as the Bulls completed a dominant display.

Although he was not happy with the result, coach Bafana Nheko, who was in charge of the youthful Lions side, was excited about the pre-season tour.

“Every team wants to win, but the bottom thing is how many of these players can eventually play Super Rugby and how many can eventually play for the Springboks. We are very excited about this tour; it has done us wonders. It has taught us new things about ourselves and where we want to go.”

The Bulls begin their Super Rugby campaign against the DHL Stormers on February 25, while the Lions will get their season underway with a clash against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on the same day.

In the other one-sided preseason match, the DHL Stormers crushed Toyota Cheetahs 43-7.

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