The Bulls thrashed the Kings 48-18 at Loftus to move into second place on the combined Super Rugby log, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
They are now two points behind the Chiefs and will be hoping that the defending champions slip up against the Crusaders or Blues over the next two weeks. If that happens, and the Bulls win their remaining league fixtures, against the Sharks and Stormers, they’ll host a semi-final and possible final.
The Bulls had to get the full five points against the Kings and they did so easily, despite playing well only in patches.
The Kings were competitive in the first quarter, with Demetri Catrakilis’s two penalties keeping his side in touch after an early try from Louis Fouché. In fact, had Andries Strauss not lost the ball over the line, the visitors would have led 10-6.
The Bulls, though, blew the Kings away with three tries in the space of five minutes. First, Chiliboy Ralepelle ripped the ball off team-mate Grant Hattingh, who had just taken contact, and ran away to score under the posts. A quick throw-in from a quick-thinking Akona Ndungane, after the Kings' restart had gone directly into touch, then resulted in a try for Jan Serfontein, before Francois Hougaard dived over for the bonus-point try. Morné Steyn, who had come off the bench in the 17th minute when Fouché limped off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, slotted all three conversions to make it 31-6.
The Kings managed to stop the rot in the last play of the half, when they won a lineout and Wimpie van der Walt went over from the rolling maul. The flanker scored another try in similar fashion 12 minutes into the second half to make it 31-18.
But the Bulls soon reasserted themselves, with a Steyn penalty followed by tries for Jacques Potgieter, who had his best game of the season, and Deon Stegmann.
Bulls – Tries: Louis Fouché, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jan Serfontein, Francois Hougaard, Jacques Potgieter, Deon Stegmann. Conversions: Fouché, Morné Steyn (5). Penalties: Steyn (2).
Kings – Tries: Wimpie van der Walt (2). Conversion: Demetri Catrakilis. Penalties: Catrakilis (2).
Bulls – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter (c), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Juandré Kruger, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.
Kings – 15 SP Marais, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss (c), 11 Michael Killian, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Darron Nell, 4 David Bulbring, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Grant Kemp, 17 Hannes Franklin, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Shane Gates.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images
Lions must learn from Sharks scare
The Lions can still go on to win this season’s Super Rugby title, but they need to heed the lessons learned from their last two major playoff games, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Five takeaways from past weekend
What we learned from the quarter-finals of Super Rugby, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
Stormers lack smarts to advance
The Stormers won’t break their playoff curse until smarter decisions are taken in terms of tactics and player recruitment, writes JON CARDINELLI.