Sun, Apr 17, 2005 - Page 24 News List

Bulls gorge Reds as Chiefs rule Cats

AP , PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA

Bulls wing Akona Ndungane scores his first try during a Super 12 match against the Reds at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa on Friday. The Bulls won 32-7.

PHOTO: EPA

The Bulls manhandled the Queensland Reds 32-7 and the Waikato Chiefs overran the Cats 45-14 in Super 12 rugby on Friday.

Still holding hope of a semifinals berth, both winners finished next to each other in the standings, with the Bulls at seventh with 16 points -- 11 behind leader New South Wales -- and the Chiefs at eighth on 14.

Queensland and the Cats, propped up by only the Sharks from the bottom of the table, have been virtually eliminated from contention for another year.

In Saturday's round seven games spread over all three participating countries, the defending champion ACT Brumbies host the NSW Waratahs in a grudge Australian match, the Auckland Blues meet the Sharks in New Zealand, and the Stormers tackle Canterbury in Cape Town.

The Bulls followed last week's upset of four-time champion Canterbury by dominating Queensland up front in another vigorous effort to lead 27-0 by halftime.

The Bulls front row of Kees Lensing, Gary Botha and Richard Bands overcame a shaky start in the setpieces to consistently shove the Reds off the ball in the scrums, and allow the marauding loose forwards to set up attacks by the backs.

"We were handed a rugby lesson in the first half," said Reds captain John Roe.

In a classic first half for the Bulls, wingers Bryan Habana and Akona Ndungane scored tries in the first quarter before a series of destructive scrums led to a penalty try awarded by New Zealand referee Lyndon Bray.

With young flyhalf Morne Steyn converting all three tries, and kicking two penalties, the Bulls sealed the result by halftime.

"The tight five played really well to set up the win for us," said Bulls captain Anton Leonard.

Scorers

* Waikato 45 (Byron Kelleher 2, Bernie Upton, Stephen Donald, Sione Lauaki, Sitiveni Sivivatu tries; David Hill 6 conversions, penalty), Cats 14 (Juan Smith, Conrad Jantjes tries; Andre Pretorius 2 conversions)

* Bulls 32 (Akona Ndungane 2, Bryan Habana tries; penalty try; Morne Steyn 3 conversions, 2 penalties), Queensland Reds 7 (Drew Mitchell try; Julian Huxley conversion)


With four of their last five games also at Loftus Versfeld, the Bulls' home has become a feared place to tread.

The Waikato Chiefs will visit next weekend, boosted by their second straight four-try victory over a South African opponent to bounce off the bottom of the table.

"It's coming down to the crunch part of the season and every point we can get from here on in is crucial," said Chiefs captain Jono Gibbes. "We've put ourselves at the back of the pack to start with and all we can do is to concentrate week in and week out on improving our position."

"If we're going to make an impression from now on it's up to experienced guys like Byron to step up and make a difference."

All Blacks halfback Byron Kelleher scored two tries, and ignited the backline, probing for gaps close to rucks and mauls and exposing the Cats defense when the Chiefs' phase play created openings.

The Cats had a fair share of possession and made some impressive attacking forays, but looked tired and lacked consistency as they wasted chances with misplaced kicks or handling errors.

Kelleher opened the scoring with a solo try and had a hand in tries to lock Bernie Upton, flyhalf Stephen Donald and No. 8 Sione Lauaki which gave the Chiefs a 31-7 halftime lead.

The Cats scored tries through Juan Smith and Conrad Jantjes but the Chiefs expanded their lead through Sitiveni Sivivatu and center David Hill, who kicked six conversions and a penalty.

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