Sergeal Petersen brace as Bulls to face Glasgow in URC Loftus final after Leinster epic

Bulls wing Sergeal Petersen (right) celebrates one of his two tries with Elrigh Louw (centre) and Devon Williams against Leinster on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Bulls wing Sergeal Petersen (right) celebrates one of his two tries with Elrigh Louw (centre) and Devon Williams against Leinster on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 15, 2024


The Bulls delivered one of their best ever performances in a knockout match – even with dubious referee calls against them – to beat Leinster 25-20 on Saturday to reach the United Rugby Championship final.

Coach Jake White’s team will now take on the Glasgow Warriors in next Saturday’s final at Loftus Versfeld (6pm start) after the Scottish outfit held on to beat Munster 17-10 in the second semi-final at Thomond Park in Limerick on Saturday night.

It was a brilliant defensive effort throughout the semi-final in front of a boisterous crowd of 31 578 at Loftus Versfeld, but none as good as the set eight minutes before the final whistle, when they kept the Irish side out after 20 phases to turn the ball over for a pressure-relieving kick.

In those 20 phases Leinster hardly made metres, and that is a testament to the effort by the 15 Bulls defenders.

A monster hit by loose forwards Cameron Hanekom and Elrigh Louw provided the momentum for the turnover, and the home side could breathe a sigh of relief after the ball was hacked downfield by replacement Nizaam Carr.

Even after winning and claiming a second final in three years of URC rugby, Bulls coach Jake White will be well within his rights to have a complaint or three over referee Sam Grove-White and his officiating in the game.

If it was not blocking runners that obstructed Bulls kick-chasers that went unpenalised, Leinster had players slowing the ball down at the breakdown.

And TMO Ben Whitehouse also stepped in to chalk off the first try, a spectacular one indeed, after an off-the-ball tackle by Bulls flank Marco van Staden after he was first obstructed by Leinster flyhalf Ross Byrne.

Those will all be big talking points, but the Pretoria side didn’t let those calls keep them from fighting – and what a fight it was from the 23 players.

When wing Sergeal Petersen was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on and Leinster No 11 James Lowe scored in the corner, it wasn’t a setback for the hosts either.

Instead, the Bulls kept their foot on the pedal and scored with 14 players to go level with their opponents.

Hanekom, Van Staden and Louw, together with the rest of the forwards, were sublime. The first few scrums the home side dominated laid the platform too.

But it was a mammoth effort by veteran fullback Willie le Roux that kept the Irish powerhouses under pressure with some clever kicks, along with flyhalf Johan Goosen.

Kick after smart kick, they turned the Leinster players around and kept them running in the thin highveld air to make them tired.

A Le Roux 50-22 kick led to a lineout from which Goosen scored the first try to level matters that sent the almost 32 000 spectators into a frenzy.

Petersen made up for his yellow card by scoring two sensational tries, the last a beautiful take out of the air after an accurate aerial bomb by scrumhalf Embrose Papier.

The Bulls No 9 again delivered a great performance behind the scrum, and should be close to a Springbok recall.

Hanekom stole the show up front, though, and the young No 8 was tireless on attack and defence.

The way he sniped off the back of scrums and rucks, and got stuck in with the hard tackles, was excellent. Surely his name will soon be in a Bok squad.

There are still some areas of their game, like too many soft moments, that the Bulls will want to get out of their system ahead of next Saturday’s final against either Munster or Glasgow – who were still playing in the second semi-final on Saturday night at the time of writing.

There will also be a bit of worry over Le Roux after he failed an HIA test, after taking a late tackle that was missed by the officials – especially with Bok wings Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie injured and unavailable as well.

But the Loftus side stayed in the battle throughout, and that is how you become a championship side. It’s the second time Leinster have been knocked out of the URC by the Bulls, following their memorable win in Dublin in 2022.

Now Loftus Versfeld will host the final between the Bulls and Glasgow next Saturday.


Bulls 25 – Tries: Sergeal Petersen (2), Johan Goosen. Conversions: Goosen (2). Penalties: Goosen (2).

Leinster 20 – Tries: James Lowe, Caelan Doris. Conversions: Ross Byrne (2). Penalties: Byrne (2).