Fiery flanker Ben Herring made a dynamic Super 12 debut to help the Highlanders to their third successive win of the season.
His home crowd at Invercargill cheered the little fireball every time he touched the ball.
Herring was quick to the breakdown and made several powerful runs with the ball in hand that tested the Bulls defence.
It was Herring’s enthusiasm and the speed of midfielder Paul Steinmetz and winger Aisea Tuilevu in the backs and the accurate goal kicking of Willie Walker that gave the Highlanders a sizeable 19-0 lead at the break.
It was extended early in the second half and when Tuilevu scored after 11 minutes the Highlanders looked to have the game and the bonus point in the bag.
Reliable flanker Kelvin Middleton was unlucky not to be awarded a try and the Highlanders the bonus point, when he crashed over in the corner early in the second spell.
But the Highlanders lost the magic touch when Herring was subbed and Bulls captain Joost van der Westhuizen rallied his troops.
The Bulls started to play with more accuracy and first five-eighth Louis Koen came into his game with some long raking touch finders.
Koen is noted for his steady and more defensive brand of rugby. But he displayed an attacking flair when he opened things up from a penalty for fullback Riaan van der Berg to score the Bulls’ first try after 18 minutes in the second spell.
The Bulls kept control of the game after this and added two more tries to claim the bonus point.
Had the bounce of the ball been kinder they could have come away with the win.
The Highlanders have three wins from as many games. But coach Laurie Mains will not be pleased by the way his side let the Bulls back into this game. “
From “Rugby News”, Issue 3 2003 p. 34.