The Blue Bulls put their Currie Cup campaign firmly back on track with an emphatic 44-20 win over a hapless Griquas team in Pretoria on Friday.
Outscoring the visitors by six tries to three - the bonus point coming before the half-time break - the men from Pretoria manhandled their opponents in a dominant first-half showing which saw them take a 32-3 lead into the at half-time break.
In the second half, with the game over as a contest at 37-3 after a fifth try, the Bulls threw all their replacements into action and allowed Griquas to get three tries - which was scant consolation for a totally outclassed group of visitors.
The platform was set by a dominant performance from the Bulls pack - which not only held sway in the set pieces, but ran rampant in the numerous raids into the Griquas territory, with locks Juandré Kruger and Flip van der Merwe joining in the try-scoring spree.
Griquas played well in short bursts, particularly in the late stages of the second half, but they simply made far too many mistakes and often coughing up the ball when they got into the strike zone.
The Bulls dodged an early bullet, when Riaan Viljoen was called back - when racing clear for an intercept try - for a knock-on at the kick-off. It was a very long advantage being played by the referee, but the knock-on was not in dispute.
And the home team wasted no time in making Griquas pay - a few phases that resulted in a breakdown penalty, saw scrumhalf Jano Vermaak tap and dive over for the opening try. Flyhalf Louis Fouché added the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
Fouché failed with a penalty attempt, but landed another minutes later - as Griquas were repeatedly pinged at the breakdown.
Griquas had a chance to open their account in the 12th minute, but somehow the kicking-tee was left in the dressing room and with no time to retrieve it he was forced to place the ball on the ground in old-school style - which resulted in the Monty Dumond shot drifting past the uprights.
The Bulls continued to stretch their lead as Fouché slotted another penalty in the 15th minute, with Griquas still finding themselves on the wrong side of the referee's rulings at the breakdown.
And the home team was now in full cry - with lock Juandré Kruger going over and wing Bjorn Basson following soon afterwards, as the Bulls put on display their full array of handling and running skills. Fouché slotted the second of the two conversions and the two tries were split by a Dumond penalty as the lead raced out to 25-3 at the end of the first half-hour.
Just before the break the Bulls got their bonus point when Akona Ndungane intercepted a pass inside the Griquas 22, as they tried in desperation to get back into the game, and the Bulls wing strolled over. Fouché's conversion made it 32-3 at the break.
The second half was barely a minute old when the Bulls, exploiting some sloppy Griquas tackling, went over for the firth try - lock Flip van der Merwe flopping over after a run by centre Wynand Olivier and a rather innocuous-looking chip-kick by Fouché - who missed the sitter of a conversion. - 37-3.
Griquas eventually got their first try in the in the 50th minute, when scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius caught rival Jano Vermaak in possession behind a scrum five metres out, stripped him of the ball and darted over. Dumond added the conversion as Griquas hit double figures - 10-37.
Just on the hour mark Fouché slipped through a few halfhearted tackles for the sixth try, from a scrum five metres out - as the Bulls continued their set-piece dominance. This time Fouché slotted the conversion for a 44-10 lead.
With just under 10 minutes to go, in a rare foray into the Bulls 22, Griquas captain Jonathan Mokuena got their second try - starting with a line-out and some quick phase play, before Earl Rose went through a half-gap and then put Mokuena away. Dumond's conversion attempt was wide, but at 15-44 there was some respectability to the Griquas score.
Five minutes later the visitors got their third try, as prop Lourens Adriaanse worked his way over from close range after numerous phases. While Dumond's conversion attempt was again wide, and at 20-44 victory was well out of reach, at least Griquas were in range of a four-try bonus point.
However, the Bulls hung on bravely and denied them that consolation.
Man of the match: Griquas scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius was, as always, very nippy, captain Jonathan Mokuena tried and lock Hendrik Roodt was busy. But most of the heroes were in light blue. New recruit, scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, was his usual lively self, while Zane Kirchner looked to have found a new lease on life at outside centre. Lock Flip van der Merwe played like loose forward - running, passing and doing his bit in the contact area - and fellow second row forward Juandre Kruger dominated the set pieces till he left the field in the 55th minute with an ankle injury. There was a strong case to be made for young flyhalf Louis Fouché, but our award goes to Bulls prop Dean Greyling - who set the stage with his numerous barn-storming runs and strong work in the scrums, while doing the hard yards in the contact area.
For the Blue Bulls:
Tries: Vermaak, J Kruger, Basson, Ndungane, Van der Merwe, Fouché
Cons: Fouché 4
Pens: Fouché 2
Tries: Pretorius, Mokuena, Adriaanse
Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Arno Botha, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha (captain), 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Francois Venter.
Griquas: 15 Monty Dumond, 14 Riaan Viljoen, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Matthew Rosslee, 11 Dusty Noble, 10 Earl Rose, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jonathan Mokuena (captain), 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Justin Downey, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Jean Botha.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Ivann Espag, 18 Frikkie Spies, 19 Marnus Schoeman, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 Barry Geel, 22 Wilmaure Louw.
Referee: Sindile Mayende
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Attie Buitendag
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee
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