PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AFP) – A couple of late tries gave Northern Bulls a bonus-point 34-0 victory over Southern Kings on Saturday in a lively all-South Africa Super 15 clash.
The extra point was secured when Akona Ndungane dotted down after the hooter and lifted the Pretoria side eight places to third on the southern hemisphere championship standings and top place in the South African conference.
Bulls showed why they have been Super Rugby champions three times with a whirlwind start at a packed Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in which they built a 17-point lead.
Much-improved Kings applied constant second-half pressure without scoring a solitary point and the Bulls ran in the late tries to complete a clinical performance.
After an Australasia tour in which they suffered three consecutive losses, the Bulls bounced back with a win over the Cheetahs last weekend and this success puts them in good spirits to host the Australian Waratahs next weekend.
Kings came home with happy memories of Australia having held the Brumbies and defeated the Rebels, but the battering from the Bulls served as a reality check for the competition newcomers.
“We gave a great performance and the boys deserve credit for starting so well, then defending superbly before going into overdrive during the closing minutes,” said Bulls captain and No 8 Pierre Spies.
“I was particularly pleased with the way we controlled the ball and turned pressure into points despite being disrupted during the game by injuries,” he added.
Kings skipper and loose forward Luke Watson returned to the starting line-up after a long injury lay-off and accepted that the Kings were outplayed before a a capacity 45,00 crowd in the Indian Ocean city.
“We did not rock up today — perhaps all the travel of the last month took its toll on us. Now we have no choice but to pick ourselves up fast and prepare for a tough match at the Cheetahs next weekend.”
Bulls were ahead within five minutes as centre Jan Serfontein dived over after quick recycled ball and a clever inside pass from fly-half Morne Steyn, who slotted the conversion.
Steyn missed a penalty attempt before succeeding with another and converted a second try in as many weeks from scrum-half Jano Vermaak, who slid over the line after great Serfontein and Lionel Mapoe off-loads.
A trademark Steyn drop goal gave the Bulls a 20-0 half-time lead and tries inside the final four minutes from replacement loose forward Jacques Potgieter and right wing Ndungane were converted by substitute fly-half Louis Fouche.