The Vodacom Blue Bulls needed just a half of good rugby to thump the Pumas 48-17 in an Absa Currie Cup match at @lantic Park in Witbank on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulls led 41-10 at the break, after running in five thrilling tries. The second half though saw both teams fail to ignite as they managed just one try each.
Once again the hero for the Bulls, but this time in a winning cause, was fullback Stefan Basson who was solid under the high ball and counter-attacked with venom. His line-kicking was also out of top drawer.
Flyhalf Morne Steyn also had a good game and kicked eight from eight as well as controlling the backline well, especially in the first half.
The Pumas struggled in the scrums and thus the ball their backs got was usually on the backfoot. They did manage two tries to the Bulls six.
The Bulls were first on the board when Morne Steyn kicked a penalty in the 3rd minute. Casper Steyn then drew level with a penalty of his own ten minutes later. That, unfortunately, for the Pumas fans was the last time the home side came close to matching the visitors.
A try by Tim Dlulane in the 18th minute signalled the beginning of the best passage of play by the Bulls all season as they ran in five tries in 21 minutes to completely swamp the Pumas.
The Bulls pack was dominant and the loose-forwards outstanding. Once again Dlulane was tireless, but he limped off soon after getting his try. His replacement, Hilton Lobberts was equally brilliant and was on hand to score the last try of the half.
In between, tries by Marius Delport (27th min), Stefan Basson (33rd min) and Morne Steyn (36th min) showed more the level of rugby the Bulls can achieve than their opening three matches.
The Pumas did get a try of their own when scrumhalf Ashieq Wise intercepted on halfway and galloped in for a try between the sticks.
The Bulls took their time to get going in the second stanza, but stretched the score to 48-10 after nine minutes after the re-start when centre Dries Scholtz crashed over for a good try.
The Pumas responded with a try by replacement lock Jonathan van der Schyff in the 55th min to make the score 48-17, but then both teams lost the plot.
A plethora of dropped passes, silly mistakes and wrong options blighted the game in the last half an hour or so.
The Bulls did ring the changes, which may have contributed to disrupting the momentum they had generated in the first 40 minutes. First Jaco Engels and Hottie Louw came on four minutes after the restart for Wessel Roux and Francois van Schouwenburg.
And then in the 62nd minute Neil Powell, Kobus van der Walt and Johan Roets got a chance to stretch their legs. In the end the Bulls come away with a valuable bonus point and the knowledge that they are capable of playing good, winning rugby – if at this stage for just a portion of the game.
Tries: Ashieq Wise (30th min), Jonathan van der Schyff (55th min)
Conversions: Casper Steyn 2 (30th min, 55th min)
Penalties: C Steyn 1 (13th min)
Blue Bulls -
Tries: Tim Dlulane (18th min), Marius Delport (27th min), Stefan Basson (33rd min), Morne Steyn (36th min), Hilton Lobberts (39th min), Dries Scholtz (49th min)
Conversions: M Steyn 6 (18th min, 27th min, 33rd min, 36th min, 39th min, 49th min)
Penalties: M Steyn 2 (3rd min, 26th min)
Pumas: 15 Casper Steyn, 14 Sacha Marot, 13 Sam Gerber, 12 Hendrik Meyer, 11 Hyron Thyse, 10 Pieter Benade, 9 Ashieq Wise; 8 Riaan van der Merwe (captain), 7 Danzel Manuel, 6 Corne Steenkamp, 5 Jacques Lombaard, 4 Bokkie Swanepoel, 3 Pierre du Toit, 2 Ashton Constant, 1 Jacques Muller.
Replacements: 16 Frikkie de Jager, 17 Simon-Peter Blakeley, 18 Jonathan van der Schyff, 19 Paul Schreuder, 20 Neil Cole, 21 Arno Coetzee, 22 Neil Visagie.
Vodacom Blue Bulls: 15 Stefan Basson, 14 John Mametsa, 13 Frikkie Welsh (captain), 12 Dries Scholtz, 11 Marius Delport, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Heini Adams; 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Tim Dlulane, 6 Warren Brosnihan, 5 Francois van Schouwenburg, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Rayno Gerber, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Wessel Roux.
Replacements: 16 Kobus van der Walt, 17 Jaco Engels, 18 Hottie Louw, 19 Hilton Lobberts, 20 Neil Powell, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Johan Roets.
By Andrew Hollely, at @tlantic Park in Witbank