Bulls run ragged by magic Blues

03rd Apr 2010, 14:39

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Physical: Keven Mealamu and Deon Stegmann get involved in Auckland

Physical: Keven Mealamu and Deon Stegmann get involved in Auckland

The Blues gave their clearest showing yet of their potential with a barnstorming 32-17 win over the Bulls in Auckland on Saturday.

The Blues gave their clearest showing yet of their potential with a barnstorming 32-17 win over the Bulls in Auckland on Saturday.

In a cracking match, the hosts ended up being just a shade too fast for their opponents at crucial moments, not least out wide where the outside quintet was a constant menace to the Bulls' heralded defence.

With the speed of the back row support ensuring a constant stream of penalties to back up the Blues' attacking efforts, the visitors found it impossible to maintain the pace and only some profligacy and early indiscipline by the home team kept the Bulls in it.

By the end, the Blues had enjoyed 69 per cent of the possession, a deeply satisfying statistic for the coaching team considering the strength of the opposing forward pack. The Bulls, rattled, had two men sent to the bin as both physicality and desperation boiled over, the pace of the Blues was too much for the tourists to cope with right to the end.

Right from the off the Blues were attacking, with Rene Ranger taking over where he left off last week, ably supported by a rejuvenated Joe Rokocoko and Rudi Wulf.

Despite an early penalty from Steyn giving the visitors the lead it was the Blues making the running.

But just when Ranger looked to have got away again, he let the ball slip. Pierre Spies picked it up and tore away as only he can, sparking a movement that culminated four phases later with Spies wonderfully pirouetting in a tackle to touch the ball down over his head and over the line.

Brett put the Blues back in the lead with his third penalty, Steyn replied with a drop goal as the game began to open up - helped in no small way by Craig Joubert's admirable intolerance of the Bulls' spoiling tactics - and then the Blues struck a crucial blow.

From the drop goal restart the Blues won back possession, Jerome Kaino surged to near the posts, the ball went to the left and eventually Ranger delivered the short pass to Toeava for the score, with Brett converting superbly from the touchline.

Trailing 16-11 at the break, it was imperative the Bulls struck back and Steyn did so from the tee two minutes into the second half, but the pace the Blues were putting on the game was still too much for the Bulls to cope with.

Once Pedrie Wannenberg had been sent to the bin - a yellow card for someone had long been overdue - the writing was on the wall. Brett and Steyn exchanged penalties, Brett then added another.

The killer try was scored by Joe Rokocoko just after the hour after a breathtaking passage of play that saw the ball move four times from one side to the other before Toeava flipped out a reverse pass to the winger in space. Brett converted to make it 29-17 and the game was up.

Another yellow card ensued for Flip van der Merwe for a late tackle as the Bulls' indiscipline again came to the fore. Brett converted his sixth penalty and right at the end Ranger was held up over the line as the Blues sought to add insult to injury.

The champions' run of 12 matches unbeaten comes to an end as they were run off the park in a manner which the Chiefs will have noted carefully as the Bulls head for Hamilton next week.

Man of the match: Sparkling as the Blues were outside the scrum, none of it would have counted had the support not been there to eke out the penalties. So a joint award to the Blues back row, who were absolutely fantastic.

The scorers:

For the Blues:
Tries: Toeava, Rokocoko
Con: Brett
Pens: Brett 6

For the Bulls:
Try: Spies
Pens: Steyn 3
Drop goal: Steyn

Blues: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Anthony Boric, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Charlie Faumuina.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Filo Paulo, 19 Peter Saili, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Luke McAlister, 22 Paul Williams.

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 François Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Derick Kuün, 20 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 21 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 22 Pedrie Wannenburg.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)