The Bulls claimed a 38-6 bonus-point win against the Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
Adriaan Strauss's men scored three unanswered tries to lead 17-3 after half an hour and then did well not to concede any points when two yellow cards saw them reduced to 13 men late in the first half. A fourth try, once had they been restored to 14 men early in the second half, ultimately killed off the Kings' brave challenge.
The five log points takes the Bulls up to second spot on the South African group log (19 points), ahead of the Lions (18) and Sharks (16), with the Stormers (23) still on top.
While the final scoreline was very one-sided, the Bulls had to work hard for this win.
The Kings dominated possession in the opening 10 minutes and were rewarded when Louis Fouché slotted a penalty.
However, the Bulls struck back after losing the ball inside the Kings 22. Jürgen Visser tried to counter-attack, but ran too laterally and with the referee having called 'advantage over', his clearance kick was charged down by Jan Serfontein. The Bulls centre won the race to the ball in the in-goal area to score an unconverted try.
The visitors extended their lead at the end of the first quarter when, following a 15-phase attack, quick hands by the backs saw Jamba Ulengo dive over in the right-hand corner. Tian Schoeman again missed the touchline conversion.
Their third try came from SP Marais, who had been thrown a lifeline by the Bulls after not getting a contract at the Kings. The fullback took advantage of some poor Kings' defence to make it 17-3 and the smile on his face showed how much it meant to him.
Fouché clawed three points back for the Kings, who would finish the half with a flourish. A strong run from Stefan Willemse took the hosts from their 22 to just outside the Bulls', and from the ruck Edgar Marutlulle broke away. He was stopped just short of the tryline, before RG Snyman was yellow-carded for a cynical infringement at the breakdown.
The Kings then opted on three occasions to scrum, against seven men, from kickable penalties as the first half ticked past 45 minutes. Once again the Bulls transgressed, with Marcel van der Merwe being yellow-carded for going offside. Arno Botha also had to leave the field so that a prop, Werner Kruger, could come on.
The Kings scrummed again, this time against six men, but Visser was held up over the line by Travis Ismaiel and the half-time whistle finally blew.
The hosts were unable to unable to make their numerical advantage count. In fact, the Bulls scored their fourth try with 14 men when an excellent offload in the tackle by Jesse Kriel put Ulengo away for his second try.
Having absorbed more pressure from the Kings, the Bulls surged back onto the attack with Snyman's try making it 31-6.
And with six minutes to go, Marais strangely opted to grubber through the defence when he had men on his outside, but was able to regather the ball to score his second and the Bulls' sixth.
Kings – Penalties: Louis Fouché (2).
Bulls – Tries: Jan Serfontein, Jamba Ulengo (2), SP Marais (2), RG Snyman. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (3), Francois Brummer.
Kings – 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 James Hall, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Martin Ferreira, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Justin Ackerman, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 CJ Velleman, 21 Ntando Kebe, 22 JP du Plessis, 23 Jaco van Tonder.
Bulls – 15 SP Marais, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Dan Kriel.
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images