South Africa’s Northern Bulls have romped to the outright lead of rugby’s Super 14 series after two rounds with a seven-try home rout of the Auckland Blues.
The 2007 champ blasted the three-time winners of the southern hemisphere provincial championship 59-26 for maximum points for the second week running and lead Australian contenders ACT Brumbies and NSW Waratahs by a point.
The Brumbies needed a fulltime conversion by Wallaby skipper Stirling Mortlock to clinch an 18-16 win over depleted defending champions Canterbury Crusaders in Canberra on Saturday.
Three-time runners-up Coastal Sharks won their South African derby 25-10 over the Golden Lions in Durban on Saturday to hold down fourth place on the standings.
The battered Blues are fifth, on six points, after coming away from their Pretoria flogging with a scoring bonus point.
Weekend winners Wellington Hurricanes, Western Force and Western Stormers joined the Crusaders and Lions in joint sixth place on five points.
The Highlanders, Chiefs, Cheetahs and Reds have yet to win a match this season.
Injury-weakened Auckland were in trouble right from the kick-off at Loftus Versfeld, conceding their first try within four minutes as the Bulls secured their four-try bonus point with a 32-14 halftime advantage.
The Pretoria Bulls did not let up in the second half, ensuring the points tally kept rising and the Blues never got closer than 19 points.
The Sharks, among the title favorites this season, ran in three tries to one to ease past the Lions for the Durban-based side’s second straight win.