Bulls on top after Super 14 round one
February 16, 2009
The Bulls made a winning start to their Super 14 campaign against the Reds © Getty Images
After a thrilling opening round of action in the Super 14 it's the Bulls who sit atop the southern hemisphere tree, their 32-20 win over the Reds signalling a stylish opening from the 2007 champions.
The Bulls had tries either side of the half-time whistle from Fourie du Preez and Wynand Olivier to thank for their opening day win, with Pierre Spies and Burton Francis adding a sheen to the scoreline and securing the bonus point at Loftus Versfeld.
Despite making a winning start to the Super 14 season the Bulls have received some bad news with skipper Victor Matfield ruled out for three weeks after sustaining a shoulder injury during the win. X-rays have revealed that Matfield has injured ligaments in his AC joint and will miss games against the Blues and the Lions and also potentially the Stormers on March 7.
There was a mixed bag for the other South African sides, with the Stormers throwing away a lead to lose 20-15 to the Sharks in Cape Town and the Lions picking up an opening-day win over the Cheetahs.
The Stormers were rattled by the loss of their skipper Jean De Villiers to a head injury early in the second half, surrendering a 10-0 lead secured with a try from Gcobani Bobo and five points from the boot of Peter Grant. The Sharks pulled clear with tries from hooker John Smit and veteran fullback Stefan Terblanche, with Grant scoring a consolation try late on for the Stormers.
The Lions and Cheetahs went out of their way to entertain, with Ashwin Willemse announcing his return by bagging two tries for the Lions as they racked up a bonus-point 34-28 win over their Free State rivals.
Defending champions Crusaders lost out on the opening week's New Zealand bragging rights to Pat Lam's Blues, who downed the Western Force 25-19 in Perth. The Blues romped home with Chris Lowrey, Justin Collins, Anthony Boric and Taniela Moa crossing to secure the bonus point after thei had trailed 14-8 at the break.
The Crusaders got the Todd Blackadder era underway with a 19-13 win over the Chiefs thanks to a brace from the ever reliable Casey Laulala. This was a game of graft and too many handling errors, but as under Robbie Deans the Crusaders are off and running.
With the Force and Reds going down, it was left to the Waratahs and Brumbies to salvage some Australian pride on the opening weekend. The Brumbies were first past the post, picking up a thrilling 33-31 win over the Highlanders in Dundein thanks to a last-gasp drop-goal from Chris Lealiifano.
The Waratahs, beaten finalists last season, took home maximum points from their game against the Hurricanes in Wellington thanks to tries from Rob Horne, Sam Norton-Knight, Lote Tuqiri and Lachie Turner, securing a 26-22 win.
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