Historic day for Sunwolves as they win first match in Singapore and achieve best record in a Super Rugby season

Sunwolves captain and flanker Willie Britz scoring a try during their third win of the year last night at the National Stadium - the most in any Super Rugby season.
Sunwolves captain and flanker Willie Britz scoring a try during their third win of the year last night at the National Stadium - the most in any Super Rugby season.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Steely Sunwolves make history, beating Bulls 42-37 to register first win at National Stadium

Singapore's National Stadium has not been kind to the Sunwolves. The Super Rugby side had never won at their adopted home, managing only one draw - against the Stormers in May 2016 - in the six times they played under the iconic dome of the Singapore Sports Hub's crown jewel.

The Sunwolves had come close to winning on at least three occasions since their 2016 entry into Super Rugby and those ghosts were exorcised last night - in dramatic style.

The Sunwolves beat the Bulls 42-37, showing steely resolve to take the lead, lose it, and then claw back into contention in a match that kept the 4,862 fans on the edge of their seats.

"We had a few soft moments and they scored off those, but we've made a promise to ourselves and to our fans that this is the way the Sunwolves play - we never give up. That's our game," said Sunwolves skipper Willie Britz.

The win sees the Sunwolves make history on two counts - this is their first victory on Singapore soil, and the win is their third in 2018, their best record in a season.

They went 14-0 up within 20 minutes, but two "soft moments" - including a quick throw-in from Gerhard van den Heever that led to a Bulls' try - saw the Bulls level things up before taking a 21-14 lead into the break.

"We never thought that we had thrown it away, no. Rugby's a long game, and it feels twice as long in Singapore, but we knew if we stuck to doing what we planned to do, we'd get a result," said Sunwolves coach Tony Brown.

"The mental side is massive...and we've made massive strides to handle these (high pressure) moments in games, and to keep playing our game," added the former All Black.

And that was exactly what the Sunwolves did.

They had an answer to every Bulls penalty or try, regaining the lead in the 65th minute through a Michael Little try, only to lose it after Bulls' captain Handre Pollard converted a penalty with just nine minutes left.

Rahboni Vosayaco scored a 75th-minute converted try to give the Sunwolves the lead for good.

"Congratulations to the Sunwolves, they endured the contest, and they fought to the end," said Bulls coach John Mitchell. "But we conceded too many soft tries and we threw the game away, in my view. We had it in our grasp."

The Sunwolves took a moment to bask in the records they broke.

"At the start of the season, you always want to be better than your previous season," said Brown.

"You want to break records, make history, and here we're building a team, building a culture to put the boys in a position to also do better next year."

It is a sentiment shared by Britz, who paid tribute to the crowd.

"Making history is massive for us. It's always great for us to come to Singapore, the crowd brings out the best in us, and it's a great stadium to play in," he said.

"We're loving it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 01, 2018, with the headline 'Finally a win under the Dome'. Print Edition | Subscribe