Rampant Bulls rout Blues
February 21, 2009
The Blues' Chris Smylie is tackled during a difficult afternoon at Loftus Versfeld
© Getty Images
The Blues were trampled 59-26 by the Bulls in Pretoria in a record defeat that thrusts question marks over their Super 14 rugby credentials. While the rampant South Africans surged to the top of the standings after two rounds, the injury-plagued Blues were left licking their wounds and counting just 13 players on the field.
It was the most points they have conceded in Super rugby history and it could have been more if the Bulls hadn't eased off from their rampaging start, when they raced to a 26-0 lead in 24 minutes. The Bulls capitalised on a glut of Blues errors and turnovers, scoring seven tries to four.
Fly-half Morne Steyn finished with 20 points from the boot while outstanding No 8 Pierre Spies bagged two tries in their second bonus point win. The Blues also secured a bonus point but, a week after their impressive 25-19 defeat of the Western Force in Perth, this was a major let-down from coach Pat Lam's men. Lam had exhausted his reserve bench by midway through the second spell but late injuries left the team seriously under-manned, allowing the Bulls to bag two late tries.
Of most concern were apparent knee injuries to lock Kurtis Haiu early in the game and fullback Isaia Toeava late on, adding them to the medical problems plaguing the side ahead of next week's match against the Stormers in Cape Town. Toeava was among the Blues' best, along with winger Rene Ranger and centre Anthony Tuitavake, who all scored tries. But they came largely through unstructured play, with their forwards unable to get a firm foothold in the game.
Bulls winger Bryan Habana raced onto a grubber kick from influential halfback Fourie Du Preez inside four minutes to open the scoring, followed by a try to Dewald Potgieter which was set up by a bust from fellow loose forward Spies. It was apparent the Blues were in for a long afternoon when fullback Zane Kirchner crossed from a simple scrum blindside move and Spies crossed for the their bonus point fourth try when he gathered a weak chip from Blues winger Paul Williams on the halfway line and galloped away from fly-half Jimmy Gopperth.
The Blues finally opened their account when Ranger was given space down the right touchline, followed by a slick Tuitavake try soon before halftime - with Toeava playing a role in both.
Du Preez put the hosts 42-14 clear with 30min remaining after a slick lineout move and the game lost structure from there. Benefiting most were the Blues, who crossed through reserve flanker Onosa'i Auva'a and Toeava but Spies his second try via a powerful surge and second five-eighth Wynand Oliver finished off the final play of the game with a classy Bulls try.
Bulls: Zane Kirchner; Akona Ndungane, Jaco Pretorius, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana; Morné Steyn, Fourie du Preez (captain); Pierre Spies, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, Werner Kruger, Derick Kuün, Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Frik Kirsten, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Pedrie Wannenburg, Heini Adams, Burton Francis, JP Nel.
Blues: Isaia Toeava; Rene Ranger, Anthony Tuitavake, Jamie Helleur, Paul Williams; Jimmy Gopperth, Chris Smylie; Tevita Mailau, Keven Mealamu (capt)/Tom McCartney, John Afoa, Kurtis Haiu, Anthony Boric, Justin Collins, Josh Blackie, Chris Lowrey, Josh Blackie
Replacements: McCartney/Francis Smith, Tony Woodcock, Dean Budd, Onosa'i Auva'a, Grayson Hart, Michael Hobbs, Winston Stanley
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton