Willie le Roux kicks off his Bulls tenure in style
Springbok star garnished his solid performance with a try during their impressive 53-27 United Rugby Championship win over Connacht
It’s not like Willie le Roux needed to introduce himself, but he did it anyway.
The Springbok star, on his debut for the Bulls, garnished his solid performance with a try to announce himself to the hard-to-please Loftus faithful during their impressive 53-27 United Rugby Championship (URC) win over Connacht on Saturday.
The vastly experienced 34-year-old fullback joined the Bulls to wind down his career but on the evidence of his commanding performance against a side that struggled at altitude, he still has a lot to offer.
Bulls coach Jake White handed him his Bulls debut, and he returned with a strong shift at the back where he operated with the likes of Sebastian de Klerk, Stedman Gans, David Kriel and Sergeal Petersen.
Le Roux, who has won successive Rugby World Cups with the Springboks, marshalled the troops at the back and younger backs such as Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse will benefit a lot from him.
Rassie Erasmus is expected to make changes to the Springbok squad as they embark on a new four-year cycle but if Le Roux continues at this rate, he will make himself difficult to ignore.
It was not only Le Roux who brought World Cup flavour to the Bulls. Flanker Marco van Staden returned to the starting line-up after his exploits in France while exciting winger Moodie started on the bench.
Le Roux was not the only standout performer for the Bulls in the match in which they completed their fourth win in six outings to stay in the top half of the table and which was watched by football coach Pitso Mosimane.
Players such as kicker Jaco van der Walt, who scored 16 points before he was replaced during the closing stages, Akker van der Merwe, Elrigh Louw and Nizaam Carr also raised their hands.
There was not much in terms of action during the opening exchanges except for successive penalties by Jack Carty for the visitors and Van der Walt for the home side.
It was not long until the Bulls scored their first try. It came from the effort of powerful hooker Van der Merwe who got an offload from captain Ruan Nortjé after a maul.
The Bulls stretched their lead through a touchdown by Nortjé but the visitors brought some respectability to the scoreboard when Diarmuid Kilgallen got the better of the Bulls’ defence on the far-side corner.
Le Roux made sure the Bulls went to the halftime break with a comfortable lead of 19 points and there was no coming back for Connacht players who struggled with the Pretoria heat that went above 30°C in the afternoon.
Connacht got off the mark quickly in the second half with a converted try by Tadgh McElroy but the Bulls tightened their grip on proceedings when Carr scored their fifth try of the afternoon.
During the closing stages, Chris Smith hammered over their seventh try to put this bonus-point victory beyond doubt but Shamus Hurley-Langton scored their consolation try shortly before the hooter.
The Bulls have shown some good signs but will be tested on Saturday by the visiting Sharks who will be looking for a scalp of a rival as they have blown hot and cold so far in the competition.
Bulls (32) 53. Tries: Akker van der Merwe, Elrigh Louw, Ruan Nortje, Willie le Roux, Nizam Carr, David Kriel, Chris Smith Conversions: Jaco van der Walt (5), Chris Smith (1) Penalties: Jaco van der Walt (2)
Connacht (13) 27. Tries: Diarmuid Kilgallen, Tadgh McElroy, Shamus Hurley-Langton. Conversions: Jack Carty (2), JJ Hanrahan (1) Penalties: Jack Carty (2)
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