Bulls thrash champion Reds
March 24, 2012
Dean Greyling charges forward for the Bulls © Getty Images
The Bulls returned to winning ways in Super Rugby in emphatic fashion courtesy of an eight-try 61-8 demolition of the sorry Reds at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Zane Kirchner scored the only try of the first half as the Bulls, who lost to the Blues in their last outing, went in at the interval with a modest 16-3 lead, but all that changed in the second period as the hosts pulled away to a stunning bonus-point win. Tries by Zane Kirchner, Wynand Olivier, Flip van der Merwe, Jacques Potgieter, Jano Vermaak, CJ Stander, JJ Engelbrecht and Bjorn Basson helped the hosts to their formidable total, as did 18 points from the boot of Morne Steyn.
A serious injury to kicker Jono Lance appeared to affect the Reds as they fell apart in the closing stages, and their second-half try by Dom Shipperley was scant consolation on a damaging evening for the Queensland franchise.
Elsewhere, the Stormers held off a brave fightback from the Lions to win 24-19 in Johannesburg and go top of the standings as the only unbeaten team in the competition. The Stormers started the stronger and were 18-7 ahead at half-time following tries from Bryan Habana and Tiaan Liebenberg with Tiaan Meyer going over for the Lions. Butch James kicked three penalties in the second half while Andries Coetzee landed a drop goal for the hosts. But Joe Pietersen's four penalties and one converstion confirmed the win.
The Brumbies ended the Highlanders' four-game unbeaten start to the season with a hard-fought 33-26 victory in their clash in Canberra. Two tries from winger Joseph Tomane in the opening quarter of an hour laid the foundation for the Brumbies' third win of the season that lifts them to the top of the Australian Conference. The Highlanders clawed their way back onto level terms thanks to tries from scrum-half Aaron Smith and centre Shaun Treeby but their hopes took a significant blow when fly-half Colin Slade suffered a suspected broken ankle early in the second half. With the game in the balance, Brumbies flanker Michael Hooper crossed for the decisive score just past the hour mark with the Highlanders having to settle for a losing bonus point.
The Crusaders got their campaign back on track with a 28-21 victory over the Cheetahs at the new AMI Stadium in Christchurch. Looking to bounce back from two straight defeats in their first 'home' match for nearly two years following the 2010 earthquake, the hosts took control in the first half with a try from winger Sean Maitland and two penalties from fly-half Tom Taylor. A try from centre Robbie Fruean shortly after the break stretched their advantage and delighted the capacity 18,000 crowd.
Impressive Cheetahs playmaker Johan Goosen, who finished the game with 16 points, dragged his side back into the contest just two minutes later. Centre Robert Ebersohn would add another before Goosen pulled his side level from the kicking tee but the Crusaders were rewarded for a late rally with a try from fullback Israel Dagg five minutes from time.
Earlier in the day, the Waratahs staged a second half comeback to claim a 34-30 victory over the Sharks in Sydney. Tries from the prolific Lwazi Mvovo and No.8 Keegan Daniel propelled the Sharks into a 17-13 lead at the break with a score from scrum-half Brendan McKibbin keeping the Tahs in touch. There was further trouble for the hosts when Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis notched his third try but it sparked the Waratahs into life with fullback Bernard Foley and centre Tom Carter both crossing in a four-minute spell. Patrick Lambie steered the Sharks back in front with two penalties but Waratahs centre Tom Kingston set the seal on a seven-try thriller with a score five minutes from time.
The Melbourne Rebels held off a stunning comeback from the Western Force to notch a narrow 30-29 victory in their lash at AAMI Park on Friday night. The Rebels raced into a 21-0 lead midway through the first half thanks to tries from centres Lachlan Mitchell and Lloyd Johansson and Sale-bound fly-half Danny Cipriani. But back came the force with two tries of their own from flanker David Pocock and centre Winston Stanley.
The comeback was well and truly on when centre Alfi Mafi crossed just three minutes into the second half with fullback Dane Harvey bringing the visitors within striking range with a penalty. His opposite number Julian Huxley stopped the rot and gave his side a little more breathing room with a penalty of his own but the Force rallied once more with winger Nick Cummins dotting down just past the hour mark to level the scores. Harvey added the conversion to give his side the lead for the first time in the game but the Rebels would have the final say with winger Mark Gerrard landing a match-winning penalty.
Elsewhere, the Hurricanes also claimed a stunning 26-25 victory over the Blues in their clash at Eden Park. Beaten by a late Highlanders penalty last time out, the 'Canes returned to winning ways in even more dramatic style thanks to a last-minute try and conversion from centre Conrad Smith. A try from centre Ma'a Nonu against his former side and the boot of fullback Lachie Munro put the Blues in control in the first half before the visitors hit back with three tries of their own from fullback Andre Taylor, winger Cory Jane and Smith to give them a narrow 19-16 lead at the break.
Three more penalties from Munro in the second half saw the lead change hands once again and the hosts looked on course for only their second win of the campaign before Smith grabbed his second score in the dying moments of the game.
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