Champions Cup – Coetzee Shine For Vodacom Bulls In 86-point Thriller Against Union Bordeaux-Begles


Vodacom Bulls flanker Marcell Coetzee dazzled with a first-half double as the United Rugby Championship (URC) club bested Union Bordeaux-Bègles 46-40 in a thrilling encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon in Pool 1 of the Investec Champions Cup.

Coetzee was joined on the scoresheet by team-mates wing Devon Williams, inside centre David Kriel, full-back Willie Le Roux and scrum-half Embrose Papier as the hosts ran in six tries – and boosted their chances of hosting a home Round of 16 tie.

Fly-half Johan Goosen added 10 points from the tee with replacement Jacob van der Walt adding two late penalties to the tally.

One team who will boast a home match in the next round is Union Bordeaux-Bègles. They secured the bonus point they needed by running in six tries - full-back Romain Buros, lock Adam Coleman, wing Madosh Tambwe and scrum-half Paul Abadie on target, with replacement Tevita Tatafu notching a second-half brace. Fly-half Zack Holmes and replacement Mateo Garcia kicked eight and two points respectively from the tee.

Offensive rugby was the order of the day and it was Vodacom Bulls who opened the scoring in the seventh minute - Coetzee scoring under the uprights following a series of penalties close to the TOP14 club’s tryline.

Shorthanded Union Bordeaux-Bègles – who had prop Carlu Sadie sent to the sin-bin prior to the opening try – responded through full-back Buros who broke the hosts’ defensive line following a sustained attack through the phases by the visitors’ pack.

Parity lasted until the 16th minute as the URC club produced a stunning counter-strike. Wing Williams was the eventual beneficiary of some quick Vodacom Bulls ball, diving down in the corner.

The hosts’ forwards continued to punish the visiting French club, with Coetzee adding his second try of the afternoon - again under the uprights - following a series of tap-and-goes inside the Union Bordeaux-Begles 22.

The TOP14 club received a lifeline in the final 10 minutes of the first half when Gerhard Steenekamp was sent to the sin-bin for the hosts. The visitors took advantage soon after with lock Coleman burrowing over under the posts.

With a minute to go in the first half, Vodacom Bulls produced a sensational counter-attack to add their bonus point try – inside centre Kriel racing down the right flank to score in the corner.

The hosts added to their lead in the opening three minutes of the second half following a pair of beautifully timed offloads by Kriel and Elrigh Louw, full-back Le Roux scampering over.

However, the French entity responded within five minutes. A line-breaking run from Buros opened up space on the right flank for wing Tambwe to canter over the whitewash.

The joy lasted around 120 seconds as Vodacom Bulls blitzed forward in the 52nd minute, scrum-half Papier breaking the line and dotting down. Union Bordeaux-Bègles responded almost instantaneously as replacement Tatafu raced through from the edge of the 22 to earn the visitors a bonus point.

Union Bordeaux-Bègles then added their fifth try of the afternoon on the hour mark as scrum-half Abadie benefitted from the open nature of the contest to race through and reduce the deficit to five.

Jacob van der Welt then added three points with a penalty, but the French club did not give up and added their sixth try from a rolling maul - Tatafu crossing over for a second time.

Van der Walt notched a late a close-range penalty to extend the lead to six with five minutes remaining.

Both sides have secured their path to the Round of 16, with Union Bordeaux-Begles set to host their fixture in the opening knockout round, while Vodacom Bills must wait for the outcome of Saracens-Lyon to see if they’ll be hosting at Lotus Versfeld in April.

Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Marcell Coetzee, Devon Williams, Marcell Coetzee, David Kriel, Willie le Roux, Embrose Papier. Conversions: Johan Goosen (5). Penalties: Jaco van der Walt (2).
Union Bordeaux-Begles: Tries: Romain Buros, Adam Coleman, Madosh Tambwe, Tevita Tatafu (2), Paul Abadie. Conversions: Zack Holmes (4), Matéo Garcia.


Vodacom Bulls: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sebastian de Klerk, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Kriel, 11 Devon Williams, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Mpilo Gumede, 6 Marcell Coetzee (c), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Reinhardt Ludwig, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 JF van Heerden, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Cornal Hendricks.

Union Bordeaux-Begles: 15 Romain Buros, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Nicolas Depoortere, 12 Pablo Uberti, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Paul Abadie, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Marko Gazzotti, 6 Pierre Bochaton, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Carlü Sadie, 2 Clément Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot (c). Replacements: 16 Maxime Lamothe, 17 Ugo Boniface, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Alexandre Ricard, 20 Antoine Miquel, 21 Tevita Tatafu, 22 Théo Nanette, 23 Matéo Garcia.