Bulls setting the pace

2012-03-05 00:00

THE Bulls are setting the early Super Rugby pace and startled even themselves with their emphatic 51-19 weekend win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein to top the log after two rounds.

The Bulls, criticised for their conservative approach in beating the Sharks with kicks in the Super Rugby opener, ran in six tries against the Free Staters to become the only South African side to record a bonus point for tries in the first two rounds.

Bulls and Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn, in kicking 21 points, followed in the footsteps of Dan Carter and Stirling Mortlock, to become the first South African and third player overall to reach 1 000 Super Rugby points.

The Stormers edged the Sharks 15-12 at Newlands with replacement flyhalf and former Maritzburg College flyhalf Peter Grant, who returned from Japan on Tuesday, slotting a superb, touchline penalty in the 78th minute for the win.

The Sharks, slick, organised and with a good slice of possession, had the better of the first half and should have held more than a three-point advantage at the break.

But, just as happened at Loftus the week before, the home side came back well in the second half to dominate territory and they would have been well clear had Joe Pietersen not missed four kicks at goal. Finally, though, Grant did the job for the Stormers and the Sharks, after producing flashes of excellent first-half rugby, were undone by their poor second-half discipline.

The Highlanders and Chiefs produced the upset wins in New Zealand derby matches.

The Highlanders marked their first match in a new indoor stadium at Dunedin by stunning seven-time champions Crusaders 27-24. The Chiefs, after their first round shock loss to the Highlanders, ran in four first-half tries to beat the Auckland Blues 29-14.

The Highlanders, clinical and defending superbly, were almost derailed by the stadium clock, twice booting the ball into touch thinking the game was over. South African referee Jaco Peyper twice ruled play on and the Highlanders finally emerged with a famous three-point win over the New Zealand favourites.

Mike Harris booted 25 points as the champion Reds gained a 35-20 win over the Force in Brisbane.

It looked like the Reds were cruising to an easy victory early in the second half and they led by 20 points before the Force scored two quick tries against the run of play to cut the lead to six before the boot of Harris, who has yet to miss a kick this year in 23 attempts, saw them home.

 

Saturday’s scorers (home team first):

Cheetahs 19 – Try: Adriaan Strauss. Conversion: Johan Goosen. Penalty goals: Goosen (4).

Bulls 51 – Tries: Dean Greyling, Werner Kruger, Bjorn Basson, Zane Kirchner (2), JJ Engelbrecht. Conversions: Morné Steyn (6). Penalty goals: Steyn (3).

Stormers 15 –Penalty goals: Joe Pietersen (3), Peter Grant (2). Sharks 12 – Penalty goals: Pat Lambie (4).

Reds 35 - Tries: Ben Tapuai, Radike Samo. Conversions: Mike Harris (2). Penalties: Harris (7). Force 20 – Tries: David Pocock, James Stannard. Conversions: Stannard (2): Penalties: Stannard (2).

Highlanders 27 – Tries: Andrew Hore, Phil Burleigh, Hosea Gear. Conversions: Lima Sopoaga (3). Penalties: Sopoaga (2). Crusaders 24 – Tries: Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis. Conversions: Tyler Bleyendaal. Penalties: Bleyendaal (4).

Friday’s results:

Chiefs 29 Blues 14

Rebels 19 Waratahs 35

Lions 28 Hurricanes 30.

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first, SA times):

Friday:

Crusaders vs Chiefs, 8.35 am

Force vs Hurricanes 1.05 pm

Saturday:

Brumbies vs Cheetahs, 6.35 am

Highlanders vs Waratahs, 8.35 am

Reds vs Rebels, 10.50 am

Sharks vs Lions, 5.05 pm

Bulls vs Blues, 7.10 pm

Stormers, bye.

 

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