The Vodacom Blue Bulls smashed Griquas 60-22 in Kimberley on Saturday, after leading 20-15 at the break.
The five-point haul takes the Pretoria side into the Absa Currie Cup semi-finals, and gives them a chance of hosting a semi-final should Western Province slip up.
Ironically, the Bulls got off to the worst possible start when they had a pass intercepted while attacking Griquas’ line. Quick hands saw the ball sent wide to winger Vuyani Dlomo, who sprinted 90m for the first try of the game.
The visitors struck back almost immediately when Stefan Basson – a late replacement for Marius Delport on the left wing – regathered his chip kick down the touchline to make it 7-7. However, the Bulls suffered a massive setback when Wynand Olivier left the field with a knee injury, and was replaced by Dries Scholtz.
A Barnard penalty edged Griquas back in front, before the home side botched a golden try-scoring opportunity. Ockie Vermuelen broke through the Bulls’ defence, but the centre held on too long before offloading to Dlomo, who knocked on.
Steyn levelled the scores with a penalty, before the Bulls pack powered their way over the tryline with a driving maul that began 20m out. However, TV replays showed Derick Kuun had lost control of the ball during the attempted grounding and the chance was lost. Fortunately for the Bulls, the No 8 redeemed himself on the half-hour mark, when the visitors won a line-out inside Griquas’ 22 and mauled over the tryline.
The Bulls began to play with more confidence, showing a willingness to run from anywhere on the field, but it was brilliant handling by the Griquas forwards that saw Dlomo grab his second try.
However, a critical turnover seconds before the half-time hooter saw the Bulls regain possession and launch one final attack. After sucking in the Griquas defence with their forwards, the Bulls created the overlap out wide and Akona Ndungane dotted down in the corner.
It was Ndungane who secured the Bulls’ bonus point 10 minutes into the second half when he chipped ahead and snatched the ball away from Chumani Booi.
A minute later, Griquas were reduced to 14 men when flank Heinrich Stride was yellow carded for a high tackle on JP Nel. The Bulls took full advantage when they went wide from a 5m scrum and Steyn brushed off the tackle of Booi to score.
Griquas pulled seven points back when No 8 Frans Viljoen crashed over for his side’s third try. However, another four tries from Heini Adams, Danie Rossouw, Basson and Scholtz took the Bulls up to 60.
Griquas - Tries: Vuyani Dlomo (2), Frans Viljoen. Conversions: Conrad Barnard (2). Penalty: Barnard.
Blue Bulls - Tries: Stefan Basson (2), Derick Kuun, Akona Ndungane (2), Morne Steyn, Heinie Adams, Danie Rossouw, Dries Scholtz. Conversions: Morne Steyn (6). Penalty: Steyn.
By Simon Borchardt