PRETORIA, South Africa, May 7 (Reuters) - The Bulls grabbed a dramatic try on the hooter to beat the Canterbury Crusaders 40-35 in the Super 14 on Friday.
Wing Francois Hougaard sealed a home semi-final for the champions when he gathered a pass from replacement hooker Bandise Maku and dived over in the corner.
Flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked the conversion to finish with a personal haul of 25 points for the Bulls, who played the last six minutes with 14 men after wing Gerhard van den Heever was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on Tim Bateman.
A passionate Loftus Versfeld crowd of 32,245, including South Africa’s World Cup soccer squad, was silenced two minutes before the hooter when flyhalf Dan Carter kicked a 52-metre penalty to snatch a 35-33 lead for the visitors.
The Bulls, unbeaten at home for 17 matches stretching back to April 2008, started slowly and conceded two early tries to lock Brad Thorn and scrumhalf Andy Ellis, with Carter converting both.
Steyn, though, chipped away at the deficit with two penalties and a 50-metre drop goal.
Crusaders wing Sean Maitland then scored in the right corner after a lineout, taking the lead to 19-9.
The Bulls notched their first try in the 31st minute through Hougaard before taking the lead with a Steyn penalty and a superb try by lock Victor Matfield.
The Crusaders hit back with an early second-half touchdown by hooker Ti‘i Paulo but Steyn kicked an easy penalty in the 56th minute to make it 27-26 to the champions.
Carter then dropped a goal before he and Steyn traded penalties to leave the Crusaders 32-30 up with six minutes remaining.
Steyn booted a marvellous 45-metre drop goal in the 76th minute but that was cancelled out by another Carter penalty which set up the grandstand finish.
Editing by Tony Jimenez. To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org