Crusaders slaughter emaciated Bulls
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Crusaders ran in 10 tries to end a near decade-long losing streak against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
The 62-24 triumph ensured the unbeaten Crusaders remain cemented at the top of the standings as they chase an eighth title.
If Loftus Versfeld was a fortress for the Bulls - having not lost there to the Crusaders since 2008 - it became a slaughterhouse in which the visitors ran riot.
The Crusaders simply had too much class for a Bulls team that looked like they did not have the stomach for a fight - despite a few consolation tries in the second half.
The three-time former champion Bulls face a bleak future with no chance of making the play-offs after six losses in nine outings.
A small crowd in the 50,000-seat stadium illustrated the disillusionment of Bulls' supporters with a team that has battled since under-fire coach Nollis Marais took over last season.
Success came all too easy for seven-time former champions Crusaders as they made it 10 wins in a row since the season began three months ago.
It was their second biggest win this year after a 50-3 rout of the Japanese Sunwolves and they have scored 167 points in their last three games, all against South African sides.
The Christchurch outfit top the New Zealand standings by four points from the Chiefs, with the defending champion Hurricanes a further four points back with a game in hand.
The Crusaders host the Hurricanes and visit the Chiefs in their next two fixtures.
The visitors needed only five minutes to take the lead against the Bulls through flank Pete Samu and built a 31-3 advantage by half-time.
A feature of the triumph was outstanding scrumming against a Bulls front row that included retired Springboks skipper and hooker Adriaan Strauss.
The New Zealanders achieved the huge winning margin despite lacking their star forwards, No.8 Kieran Read (injured) and lock Sam Whitelock (suspended).
"We were really fired up for this match as the team has struggled to win at Loftus," skipper and flank Matt Todd said, referring to Crusaders last winning in Pretoria nine years ago.
"Facing the Bulls, we needed early momentum and achieved that goal. However, our victory was not as easy as the scoreline suggests."
Asked whether the Crusaders were brilliant or the Bulls were woeful, Strauss fudged his answer.
"The Crusaders were very clinical with clever kicks and line breaks," he replied without delving into the ills of his team.
Samu, Tim Bateman, Scott Barrett, Jack Goodhue (2), Seta Tamanivalu, David Havili, Richie Mo'unga, Andrew Makalio and Mitchell Hunt were Crusaders' try scorers.
Mo'unga slotted fire conversions from eight attempts and substitute Hunt one from two.
Jesse Kriel, Jamba Ulengo and Jan Serfontein scored tries for the Bulls, all of which Francois Brummer converted, and Tian Schoeman kicked a penalty.
Man of the match: Travis Ismaiel showed great energy, even winning some turnovers at the breakdown, and was effective with the ball in hand before leaving the field injured early ion the second half. Renaldo Bothma, a late replacement, showed a willingness to take it to the Crusaders. However, most of the other Bulls looked like starving animals being lead to slaughter. Take your pick from a classy and champion Crusaders team. Our pick is Richie Mo'unga, showed who just how much depth New Zealand really has in the flyhalf channel.
For the Bulls:
Tries: Kriel, Ulengo, Serfontein
Cons: Brummer 3
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Samu, Bateman, Barrett, Goodhue 2, Tamanivalu, Havili, Mo'unga, Makalio, Hunt
Cons: Mo'unga 5, Hunt
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Jan Serfontein.
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd (captain), 6 Pete Samu, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Referee: Nic Berry (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Federico Anselmi (Argentina), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)