Moodie hat-trick highlights high-scoring Bulls win

rugby18 May 2024 14:21| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel

Springbok hero Canan Moodie scored a hat-trick as his Vodacom Bulls side scored nine of their own to smash Benetton 56-35 in a 14-try Vodacom United Rugby Championship thriller at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Bulls raced to their bonus point in the first half hour and then allowed Benetton to steal a bonus point in the second half that could do wonders for their campaign to qualify for the top eight.

The result meant that the Bulls moved temporarily up to second spot, although other results may see them drop back to fourth by the end of the weekend, while Benetton will go into a straight shootout with Edinburgh next weekend in the quest for a spot in the Investec Champions Cup.

But there are still some areas of concern for the Bulls, even though their dominance up front was never in question on the afternoon’s play. The fact that they continue to give an opening to opposition sides in the second half may be an issue when games are tighter, although they have often put in an inspiring first-half performance to rack up a big scoreboard lead by that point.

Director of Rugby Jake White has often spoken about getting closer to an 80-minute performance, and on this alone, the evidence is there of it moving in the right direction, although some tougher opposition may make them pay if they are as sloppy as they were in the second half.

The other question remains if the Bulls, in the knockout rounds, can take this sort of momentum and replicate it away from home.

Their first test will start in the final round where they face old rivals, the Hollywoodbets Sharks, and then possibly in a semifinal and beyond if they get that far.

Racking up points at Loftus is certainly not beyond them, but away from home will be where they will be tested.

Yet, on a warm autumn afternoon that could easily have been mistaken for a late summer’s exit, their game plan was well suited to the opposition and paid almost immediate dividends.

Their ability to keep the ball with short passes in the same channel made healthy inroads, while the physicality of their forwards was never in question, as much as the result never even came close.


There was a lot of momentum in the opening minutes, where the Bulls first hit hard, then scored through Moodie as Embrose Papier popped a short pass to the flying Bok winger on the inside after a lineout close to the line.

Moodie’s World Cup-winning teammate was next to show off his skills as the Bulls kept on the pressure, eventually taking the outside ball to draw two players before a perfect inside offload to David Kriel for the first of his two tries.

Arendse added his name to the scoresheet shortly afterwards by wrestling his way over from close range and the bonus point came in the 26th minute as Bulls captain Ruan Nortje was put into the perfect gap to score after Willie le Roux exploited a mismatch with prop Simone Ferrari.

Benetton got their scoreboard eventually ticking after a half hour as Onisi Ratave used the outside space to overlap the Bulls defence and run in untouched.

A break by Johan Goosen was enough to stretch the defence before the ball went wide for Moodie to run in his second.

Benetton started the second half well as Gianmarco Lucchesi forced his way over from a pick-and-go and Andy Uren added another five minutes later to give the Bulls some jitters and come within 10 points of them.

Akker van der Merwe then extended the lead with a trademark rolling maul try before David Kriel showed two outrageous dummies to get his second and Moodie added his third to put the game beyond doubt.

Two late tries by Toa Halafihi and Marco Zanon not only gave them a bonus point but a lot of respectability in the scoreline, but replacement hooker Johan Grobbelaar stretched over from close range near the end to finish the game on a high for the Bulls.


Vodacom Bulls - tries: Canan Moodie (3), David Kriel (2), Kurt-Lee Arendse, Ruan Nortje, Akker van der Merwe, Johan Grobbelaar. Conversions: Johan Goosen (4). Penalty: Chris Smith.

Benetton - tries: Onisi Ratave, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Andy Uren, Toa Halafihi, Marco Zanon. Conversions: Rhyno Smith (5)