Bulls run rampant at Loftus
Bulls run rampant at LoftusSHARE
The Bulls cemented their place at the top of the South African conference and the top three of the global standings.
Running rampant the Bulls produced a 48-14 mauling of the Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
It was by no means flawless, but the men from Pretoria managed to outscore the Kiwi side by six tries to two.
The Bulls, who have always been an abrasive team, showed they can now vary their game – even though those famous high bombs and powerful mauls remained prominent.
With their set pieces very dominant, particularly the scrums, and their hard-running forwards making easy ground, the Hurricanes resorted to illegal tactics to stop the onslaught.
One of the biggest culprit was Ben Franks, who walked around for most of the first half with a puzzling frown on his face – unsure what to do to stop the rout without conceding more penalties.
It also didn't help the Hurricanes that they became progressively more desperate it their attempts to open up the game and drag the Bulls out of their structured approach. In the process the tourists' execution let them down badly and gifted the Bulls at least two tries.
Eventually the Hurricanes allowed their frustrations to boil over, resulting in a couple of unsavoury off-the-ball incidents.
The Bulls, once they had secured their four-try bonus point early in the second half, seemed to lose concentration and it resulted in a number of sloppy handling errors.
It allowed the Hurricanes to make some inroads in the second half, but never threatened the Bulls' dominance or the outcome of the match.
The Bulls, who were said to be suspect in the scrums, showed their intent by destroying the Hurricanes' first set-piece and winning a penalty.
That set the trend, with the third scrum also producing a penalty, which Morné Steyn slotted from 40 metres out for an early 3-0 lead.
The Bulls continued their abrasive onslaught and another penalty, in the 12th minute, saw Steyn make it 6-0.
In desperation the Hurricanes, who saw very little of the ball, attempted to run out of their 22 and it gifted JJ Engelbrecht an easy intercept try in the 19th minute. Steyn's conversion gave the Bulls a commanding 13-0 lead.
Next came a powerful, fast-moving rolling maul that gifted Deon Stegmann a try in the 24th minute, as the Hurricanes' pack struggled for answers against the gargantuan Bulls pack. Steyn's conversion made it 20-0.
It went from bad to worse for the Hurricanes when they lost their captain, seasoned All Black Conrad Smith, just short of the half-hour mark when he got his head on the wrong side of a tackle on JJ Engelbrecht and was taken from the field after being knocked out cold.
He was later taken to hospital for scans and his loss will be a huge blow for the Kiwi outfit.
The pressure again brought reward for the Bulls, in the form of an offside penalty, which Steyn aimed at the posts and bounced off the left upright.
However, almost immediately – with the Hurricanes again trying to run out of their 22 – Akona Ndungane intercepted for the third try. This time Steyn was on target – 27-0.
The Hurricanes had one last shot at some first-half points, but Dewald Potgieter won his team a penalty at the breakdown.
Continuing their attacking approach in the second half, the Hurricanes finally found a hole in the Bulls's defence – Alapati Leiua making the initial bust just outside his 22 and TJ Perenara finishing it off. Beauden Barrett's conversion made it 7-27 just two minutes into the second half.
The Bulls' response was swift and brutal – a quick tap from a penalty, the forwards charging hard and prop Dean Greyling the man to carry the ball over the line for the four-try bonus point. Steyn's conversion made it 34-7.
Still the Hurricanes ran at the Bulls, who had at times lost their structure and TJ Perenara got a second try just a few minutes short of the final quarter. Barrett's conversion made it a 20-point game again – 14-34.
However, the Bulls maintained their dominance, the Hurricanes continued to infringe and eventually the referee ran out of patience – Jason Eaton being yellow carded for foul play with just over 10 minutes left on the clock.
And the Bulls made them pay – Lionel Mapoe strolling over for the fifth try after a great backline move after a line-out. Steyn made it 41-14 with the conversion.
Two minutes from time Louis Fouché got the sixth try, as the Bulls' backs also started cutting lose and Fouché came on a great angle to receive the scoring pass from Steyn. Fouché added the conversion – 48-14.
That is where it stayed.
Man of the match: TJ Perenara was the creative spark that allowed the Hurricanes to upset the Bulls' defensive lines at times. Morné Steyn again proved to all; his doubters he is so much more than just a kicking flyhalf. JJ Engelbrecht is growing in stature every week. The workrate of forwards like Chiliboy Ralepelle and Dewald Potgieter is what set the Bulls pack apart, while Deon Stegmann had his most effective game of the season. However, our award goes to the Bulls' front row – Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Dean Greyling – who set the tone for the Bulls' dominance and ultimately the win.
For the Bulls:
Tries: Engelbrecht, Stegmann, Ndungane, Greyling, Mapoe, Fouché
Cons: Steyn 5, Fouché
Pens: Steyn 2
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Perenara 2
Cons: Barrett 2
Yellow card: Jason Eaton (Hurricanes, 69 – foul play, taking the support player out)
Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Lionel Mapoe.
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tusi Pisi, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Reggie Goodes, 17 Ben May, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Tim Bateman.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Attie Buitendag (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)