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Bulls 21 Hurricanes 19
The Hurricanes Super Rugby opener against the Bulls in Pretoria proved to be a reminder that a good start can go a long way to winning a match.
The Bulls started well, the Hurricanes didn't, and the home side came away with a 21-19 win.
A 66th minute try from Beauden Barrett looked to have stolen the match for the Hurricanes, but the Bulls hit back with a counter attack that ended in a match-winning try to prop Pierre Schoeman.
The try came with some consolation for Barrett, as he became just the fourth player to cross the 1000 career points threshold, joining Daniel Carter, Stirling Mortlock and Morne Steyn.
It was a sleepy start for the Hurricanes and as they took their time to get into the game, the Bulls charged.
Handre Pollard looked like he'd have his fingerprints all over the game early on, getting the Bulls in ideal field position to open the scoring out wide through Johnny Kotze.
The winger was the benefactor of a sustained period of play that had the Hurricanes stretched, allowing the hosts to spread the ball. Pollard missed the conversion but added a penalty soon after and after seven minutes the Bulls were ahead of the clock.
With end-to-end rugby seeming to be the theme of the opening round of the competition, it was fair to expect a chance coming to the Hurricanes eventually.
They didn't have to wait long as, after being shocked into the match by the early damage, the visitors hit back through hooker Ricky Riccetelli who drove over off the back of a rolling maul.
The try was a reward for the Hurricanes' tactic to play aggressively, turning down two chances to get on the board from the tee in the hope for crossing the stripe.
And by the 20 minute mark, the visitors found themselves in the lead through a lovely chip and chase play by winger Wes Goosen. Ihaia West added the extras to put the Hurricanes ahead 12-8.
While the Hurricanes held the lead, the Bulls looked to be the more together team on offense, with the visitors having to clean up a lot of passes that found the turf rather than a teammate.
The visitors were given a boost, however, when Bulls prop Pierre Schoeman was shown a yellow card for a swinging arm making contact with Vince Aso's head on the ground. The Hurricanes couldn't take any sort of advantage despite being a man up, though, as the Bulls kicked into another gear and made the most of some poor tackling to run in their second try of the night through lock Lood de Jager.
Another penalty from the boot of Poolard extended the Bulls lead, and they went into the break 16-12 ahead.
The sides had a physical, back and forth battle out of the break and neither were able to break the other.
On the back of a well-placed kick by TJ Perenara, Barrett eased over the line to put the Hurricanes up and in position to steal the match.
It wasn't to be though, as Schoeman went from villain to hero, scoring on the back of a counter attack off a charged-down West kick to give the home side a two-point win.
Bulls 21 (J. Kotze, L. de Jager, P. Schoeman tries; H. Pollard 2 pen)
Hurricanes 19 (R. Riccitelli, W. Goosen, B.Barrett tries; I. West 2 con)