Blues bash bumbling Bulls
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: A Matt Duffie double helped the Blues score 31 second half points to bag a bonus point 38-14 victory over a tired-looking Bulls at Eden Park on Saturday.
Both sides needed a confidence-boosting second win for the season and with the scores locked at 7-7 after a messy first half it could have gone either way.
But once Duffie lit up the scoreboard with his first try five minutes into the second spell, the Blues found a previously unrealised composure to shut the Bulls down.
By the final whistle they had scored six tries to two to gain a valuable bonus point as well and captain James Parsons put the improvement down to lessons learned in last week's 24-33 loss to the Canterbury Crusaders.
"People spoke poorly about our forward pack and we knew what was coming tonight and we stood up. But it's a stepping stone. Just like last week gave us some confidence this will give us a little bit more," he said.
The Blues did not help themselves in the first half with a high error rate and blowing two penalty chances. The first penalty they kicked for the corner to challenge the Bulls at a lineout and lost. The second time they went for the points but Piers Francis missed from close range.
But it was a different look in the second half which started when fullback Michael Collins created the space for Duffie to score his first try by the posts.
Collins was also a central figure in the Blues' first try, three minutes into the game, when he handled twice in a passing spree down the left touchline which ended with Augustine Pulu touching down.
The Bulls gained huge amounts of territory for 50 minutes from the pinpoint accuracy of Handre Pollard's boot. One 60-metre effort in the first half led to a five-metre lineout which produced their first try to prop Lizo Gqoboka.
But as the Bulls began to tire the spaces opened up for Duffie to add his second try, followed by Ihaia West, Matt Moulds, Melani Nanai, before Rudy Paige scored the Bulls second try on the full-time.
"In the second half, we couldn't build pressure at all. We just lost the ball after one or two phases. Against these guys, they run you all over the park and you can't hold up that wall for 80 minutes," Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss said.
Man of the match: Ruan Steenkamp tackled his heart out while Trevor Nyakane and Lizo Gqoboka will be more than pleased with their time on the park as they make their presence known in all facets. Handre Pollard's tactical kicking kept the Bulls in the game during the first half. Augustine Pulu controlled the tempo brilliantly in the match while Matt Duffie displayed his strength and speed to grab two well-deserved tries. The Blues team centred around the performance of one player, Jerome Kaino. The No.8 carried strongly and put in his fair share of tackles to provide his side with some much-needed impetus.
For the Blues:
Tries: Pulu, Duffie 2, West, Moulds, Nanai
Cons: Francis 2, West
For the Bulls:
Tries: Gqoboka, Paige
Cons: Pollard, T Schoeman
Yellow card: Jimmy Tupou (Blues, 59 - neck roll)
Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Ihaia West, 23 TJ Faiane.
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Nick de Jager, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 John-Roy Jenkinson, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Burger Odendaal.
Referee: Nicholas Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: William Houston (Australia), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)