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Ken Borland

Former champions hammer Reds at Loftus

Posted on March 26, 2012 by Ken

Defending SuperRugby champions the Queensland Reds came horribly unstuck at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday as the three-time champion Northern Bulls hammered them 61-8 (half-time 16-3).

This is the second time in five years that the Bulls have humiliated the Reds at Loftus, following the record 92-3 massacre in 2007.

The Reds are missing several injured or suspended members of their triumphant 2011 team, most notably flyhalf Quade Cooper, centre Anthony Faingaa and wing Digby Ioane, and they were never in the contest on Saturday.

“It was a bad night in the office all round, the performance was poor by us and a couple more injuries have added salt to the wound,” Reds coach Ewen McKenzie admitted afterwards in a news conference. “We hit a red-hot Bulls team tonight, they were very fresh and powerful.”

The Bulls scored just one try in the first half, through fullback Zane Kirchner after a five-metre scrum, but flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked three penalties and a conversion to give them a handy lead.

The Reds’ scrambling defence kept the damage down to just the single try, and centre Jono Lance missed two late penalties that would have kept them in touch.

But the Bulls were creating space on attack almost at will, and the Reds plunged into despair midway through the second half as the Bulls scored three tries to open up a 37-3 lead.

The powerful running of flank Jacques Potgieter and the great hands of Steyn put centre Wynand Olivier over for a try in the second minute of the half, before the strength of lock Flip van der Merwe carried him over the line in the 15th minute.

Potgieter then scored the try of the match as he burst clear from the halfway line and held off the cover defence to score the bonus point try.

“Everything came together tonight, it was a special performance, everyone brought something. It just wasn’t the Reds night, they were disrupted by injuries and citings, and I feel sorry for them,” Bulls captain Spies said.

The Reds responded by keeping ball in hand in entertaining fashion, fullback Rod Davies dashing down the right before wing Dom Shipperley rounded off on the left for the visitors’ only try.

But then it was back to the slaughter as the Bulls restored their dominance through keeping the ball close to the forwards. Eighthman Spies led from the front with several rampaging runs, while hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and wing Akona Ndungane were also impressive.

Alert replacement scrumhalf Jano Vermaak sniped over from a ruck in the 66th minute, before flank CJ Stander, who chased turnover ball well all evening, scored from a rolling maul six minutes later.

Replacement flyhalf Louis Fouche’s conversion put the Bull score into the fifties and, even though coach Frans Ludeke cleared the bench, the substitutes continued to tear into the Reds, with centre JJ Engelbrecht and fullback Bjorn Basson scoring tries in the last five minutes.

“It was important we stayed focused in the second half and we finished strongly, it just kept getting better! I felt we had good momentum when we carried the ball,” Spies said.

The win took the Bulls, who last won the southern hemisphere franchise championship in 2010, into first place in the overall standings, one point ahead of the Waikato Chiefs. Fellow South Africans the Stormers will overtake them at the top if they beat the Gauteng Lions later on Saturday.


Bulls – Tries: Zane Kirchner, Wynand Olivier, Flip van der Merwe, Jacques Potgieter, Jano Vermaak, CJ Stander, JJ Engelbrecht, Bjorn Basson. Conversions: Morne Steyn (5), Louis Fouche’. Penalties: Steyn (3).

Queensland Reds – Try: Dom Shipperley. Penalty: Jono Lance.


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