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Pulu pulls Chiefs to win over Bulls

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Lynn McConnell     22 May 2015     Getty Images

Pulu scored in the 53rd and 57th minutes to help the Chiefs break a 15-15 deadlock after they had been down 3-15 early in the game.

He earlier had a try ruled out when he grounded the ball short of the line. But his first came from a well-constructed move after a scrum which saw him dart around the blindside of a breakdown to score.

Then from the re-start, a dazzling burst of speed and elusiveness from another star on the night, first five-eighths Damien McKenzie, the Chiefs charged towards the goal-line again and it appeared Ross Filipo, who answered the side's SOS for a lock, was going to be rewarded for an outstanding effort by scoring a try.

However, he was grounded short of the line and Pulu was on hand to score his second and a bonus point try for the Chiefs.

Pulu was sharp in everything he did and give the Chiefs significant momentum at crucial stages of the game.

Early in the game, the field looked like a M.A.S.H clearing station. Flanker Sam Cane was off for a blood bin head injury, lock Johan Bardoul was receiving treatment for a leg injury before going on to make a massive contribution to the win, while the Bulls lost fullback Jesse Kriel with a leg injury.

But when play resumed an old-fashioned crash tackle by J.J. Engelbrecht on McKenzie saw the ball drop free and wing Bjorn Basson toe it on. Wing Hosea Gear looked to have the ball covered in-goal but it bounced away from him and second five-eighths Jan Serfontein got enough pressure on the ball to be awarded the try.

More mayhem followed after impressive build-up work by the Bulls allowed Serfontein to slip a grubber kick towards the Chiefs line. The bounce beat wing Bryce Heem and he attempted a wild slap which was ill-directed and pounced upon by Basson for a gift try.

The Bulls got a taste of the wayward bounce soon after from a lineout and it was not controlled by the visitors and prop Mitchell Graham toed it on and when Serfontein carried it back he fell over and grounded the ball. The Chiefs took their chance and from a ruck it was flanker and captain Liam Messam who picked up the ball and drove through for the try, the prize for another fine demonstration of leadership on the night.

Another midfield break by Pulu sparked a Harlem Globetrotters-like burst which saw the ball moved all over the ground before a decisive break by Gear promoted quick ball that allowed Heem space on the left flanker to score and level the scores at 15-15.

The Bulls were unable to build on the lead they had, and in the vital third quarter they were hardly out of their own half. That was in spite of some fine work by flanker Jacques du Plessis who had a strong night on defence.

During the first half Serfontein looked like taking charge with some clever play but, as the Chiefs found their supply of ball improving, the visiting backs were taken out of the picture.

Eschewing their lineout mauling until the latter stages of the game, and significantly when flanker Sam Cane was in the sin-bin, the Bulls had a chance to get within striking distance with replacement forward Pieter Labuschagne going over at the back of the maul. But Pollard was unable to land the conversion leaving the Bulls nine points adrift.

However, the Bulls made some fatal tactical errors when kicking the ball back to the Chiefs who used the ball to relieve the pressure and punished the visitors when replacement wing Tim Nanai Williams scored after the final buzzer to round out the victory.

Scorers: Chiefs 34 (Liam Messam, Bryce Heem, Augustine Pulu 2, Tim Nanai-Williams tries; Damian McKenzie 3 con, pen) Bulls 20 (Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Pieter Labuschagne tries; Handre Pollard con, pen). HT: 15-15