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Johan Goosen and David Kriel celebrate. Steve Haag Sports/Deon van der Merwe/INPHO
Rugby

Brilliant Bulls end Leinster's season and reach URC final

The South Africans were deserving winners over the eastern province in Pretoria.

Bulls 25

Leinster 20

THE BULLS WILL face either Munster or Glasgow in the URC final after beating Leinster 25-20 in a pulsating encounter in Pretoria.

Leinster’s nightmare cup run continued at Loftus Versfeld as Bulls winger Sergeal Petersen emerged the unlikely hero with a brace of tries to see the home side into next Saturday’s showpiece.

Petersen’s second try, a burglary from an up-and-under that he juggled, regained and ran 30 metres to score, was a dagger into the hearts of Leinster, who were second-best for large parts of the game.

The former Stormers winger, who won the URC with the Cape side in 2022, was a late replacement for World Cup-winning winger Kurt-Lee Arendse, mirroring his role two years ago where he replaced Leolin Zas.

But Leinster’s third straight URC semi-final loss, coupled with their Champions Cup failures over the past three years, will again raise the spectre of mental scars and what exactly the most experienced franchise in the competition is doing wrong that they can’t get over the line.

Especially as they seemed to get the rub of the green from referee Sam Grove-White, who allowed way too much leeway in the match — albeit this included a ruck cleanout on Jamison Gibson-Park that went unchecked and could easily have led to a card.

Still, it was the home side that won all the big moments, and kept Leinster’s attack in check, with a particularly crucial moment coming late in the game where they stopped a 22-phase attack to turn over the ball and thunder downfield. That moment was a game-winner.

But it was the tale of a game where even when Leinster went ahead early, they failed to capitalise on it. James Lowe’s opening try came after two missed chances for the Bulls – including a disallowed try – and a yellow card for Petersen after a deliberate knock-on.

But just as it was scored, the Bulls came back at them through an excellent carry by Cameron Hanekom, which was finished off by Johan Goosen running into a hole to level the scores.

Goosen’s boot kept the Bulls in front at halftime, and Harold Vorster’s grubber from the wing sat perfectly for Petersen’s first try, leaving Leinster to play catch up from 10 points down.

They did it well when a two–pronged tap penalty saw Caelan Doris go over from close range and Ross Byrne got them level again.

But then Petersen’s moment of magic came, and the Bulls defence held firm, and the nightmare run for Leo Cullen’s side continued for another year.

Scorers for the Bulls:

Tries: Goosen, Petersen (2). Cons: Goosen (2/3). Pens: Goosen (2/2)

Scorers for Leinster:

Tries: Lowe, Doris. Cons: Byrne (2/2). Pens: Byrne (2/3)

Bulls: Willie Le Roux; Sergeal Peterson, David Kriel, Harold Vorster, Devon Williams; Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier; Gerhard Steenkamp, Johan Grobbelaar, Wilco Louw; Ruan Vermaak, Ruan Nortje (capt); Marco van Staden, Elrigh Louw, Cameron Hanekom.

Replacements: Akker van der Merwe, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Keagan Johannes, Chris Smith, Cornel Smit.

Leinster: Jimmy O’Brien; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Joe McCarthy, James Ryan (capt), Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ross Molony, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Ciarán Frawley, Jamie Osborne.

Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)

Written by Brenden Nel and originally published on The 42 whose award-winning team produces original content that you won’t find anywhere else: on GAA, League of Ireland, women’s sport and boxing, as well as our game-changing rugby coverage, all with an Irish eye. Subscribe here.

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