Bulls charge to the top of the Super 14 with Blues rout


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South Africa’s Bulls have romped to the outright lead of rugby’s Super 14 series after two rounds with a seven-try home rout of the Blues in the second round of the Super14.

The 2007 champions blasted the three-time winners of the southern hemisphere provincial championship 59-26 to seize maximum points for the second week running and lead Australian contenders the Brumbies and the Waratahs by a point.

The Brumbies needed an extra time conversion by Wallaby skipper Stirling Mortlock to clinch an 18-16 win over depleted defending champions the Crusaders in Canberra on Saturday.

But there was precious little excitement as the Waratahs prevailed in an ugly 11-7 win over New Zealand’s Chiefs in Sydney on Friday.

Three-time runners-up the Sharks won their South African derby 25-10 over the Lions in Durban on Saturday to hold down fourth place on the standings.

The battered Blues are fifth, on six points, after coming away from their Pretoria flogging with a scoring bonus point.

Weekend winners Hurricanes, Western Force and Stormers joined the Crusaders and Lions in joint sixth place on five points.

The Hurricanes scored two tries in the final five minutes to come from behind to beat the Highlanders 22-17 in Dunedin, while the Perth-based Force downed South Africa’s Cheetahs 16-10 and the Stormers held out against the fast-finishing Reds 27-24 in Cape Town.

The Highlanders, Chiefs, Cheetahs and Reds have yet to win a match this season.

The injury-weakened Blues were in trouble right from the kick-off at Loftus Versfeld, conceding their first try within four minutes as the Bulls secured their four-try bonus point with a 32-14 halftime advantage.

The Pretoria based Bulls did not let up in the second half, ensuring the points tally kept rising and the Blues never got closer than 19 points.

There was high drama in Canberra as Mortlock kicked the Brumbies to victory on the siren to deny the under-strength seven-time Super 14 champions Crusaders.

The Crusaders were missing injured skipper Richie McCaw along with several other key All Blacks and looked as if they would courageously hang on for victory before Wallaby back Mark Gerrard crossed over wide out, giving Mortlock the chance to kick the Brumbies to victory.

The Brumbies are proving themselves the masters of brinkmanship this season, having beaten the Highlanders 33-31 with a late drop goal the previous weekend in Dunedin.

It was a poor advertisement for Super 14 rugby in Sydney with the Waratahs winning a woeful spectacle against the Chiefs.

Both sides scored a try but the Waratahs scraped home on the back of flyhalf Kurtley Beale’s second-half penalty goal and drop goal.

The Sharks, among the pre season title favourites this season, ran in three tries to one to ease past the Lions for the Durban-based side’s second straight win.

The Reds almost came back against the Stormers, surging from 27-5 down early in the second half to secure two bonus points, one for scoring four tries and the other for losing by fewer than eight points.

Sapa-AFP – Super14.com

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