Vodacom Super 14
Bulls are Super 14 champions
The 2009 Super 14 Champions (AFP)
Pretoria - The Bulls were always starting as favourites to win their second Super
14 title, but few would have envisaged a 61-17 massacre over a Chiefs
team that was outclassed almost from first whistle to last.CLICK HERE FOR GALLERY
The Bulls players and management have for a while now spoken about their desire to build a dynasty, to start an era of dominance in the competition to rival that of the Crusaders.
At Loftus on Saturday, in front of a sell-out crowd awash in light blue, they added substance to their words with a performance that was emphatic as any seen in any final anywhere. It was their second title, and only two teams have won more Super 14 trophies now than they have - the Crusaders and the Blues.
The Bulls scored eight tries to two, they led 34-7 at half time, and the game was effectively over when they led 21-7 after just 15 minutes. The eight tries was a record for a Super 14 decider, so was the winning margin of 44 points, which eclipsed the 30 the Brumbies won by when they beat the Sharks 36-6 in Canberra in 2001.
Of course, it was also the first time any team had scored more than 50, and ultimately this was anything but the dour final that some might have been anticipating.
When Leila Masanga scored the first try for the Chiefs after just seven minutes had been elapsed no-one would have believed what was about to transpire. Zane Kirchner put up a poor kick, a rare occurrence for him, and his failure to follow it effectively put Masanga in space. You don’t catch Masanga when he is in space, and the try, which was converted to make it 7-0, was greeted by a surreal silence by the massive crowd.
But if the Bulls were as stunned as their supporters they did not show it. Not for nothing is Fourie du Preez rated as the best scrumhalf in the world, maybe even the best rugby player on the planet.
Kirchner, surely now the front-runner for the Springbok fullback jersey for the coming series against the British and Irish Lions, made the initial break for the first Bulls try, but then looked to have butchered it with poor decision-making. No problem, Du Preez just forced himself over from the recycle to level the scores.
The game had hardly been restarted when the Chiefs rather stupidly tried to run the ball from near their own tryline. A big tackle turned over their possession, and there was that man Du Preez, looking for all the world like a wing this time, scorching down the right touchline to make 14-7.
Du Preez then produced an excellent chip kick, just to show what a brilliant all-round player he is, to send in Bryan Habana. Then came a trademark Morne Steyn drop-goal and a Steyn penalty to make it 27-7 with half time approaching.
A 20 point advantage for the Bulls at the break would already have them out of sight, but they were not done, Habana scoring an intercept try on the stroke of half time to further demoralise the visitors.
The Chiefs tried gamely in the early parts of the second half to fight their way back, and skipper Mils Muliaina did score a good try to bring the gap back to 20. No-one who was present would have been fooled into thinking that there was going to be a resurgence, however, as the Bulls were just too precise and physical, and their defence seldom looked like being breached.
There was a Stephen Donald penalty later, but the light blue tidal wave continued for the rest of the match, with skipper Victor Matfield capping his own excellent game with a try where he simply soared over a loose scrum on the corner flag.
There was another breakaway, this time scored by Pierre Spies, but perhaps the most deserved try was the one scored by Wynand Olivier, who was a constant thorn in the Chiefs’ defence and ended the competition as easily the best South African centre.
For the Chiefs there was a lot of honest endeavour, but they were simply never allowed to settle, either in terms of possession or territory, and it was why the second best team in the 2009 Super 14 came a very distant second on the deciding day. Scorers:
Bulls - Tries: Fourie du Preez (2), Bryan Habana (2), Victor Matfield, Wynand Olivier, Pierre Spies, Danie Rossouw. Conversions: Morne Steyn (5), Burton Francis. Penalties: Steyn (2). Drop Goal: Steyn.
Chiefs - Try: Lelia Masaga, Mils Muliaina. Conversions: Stephen Donald (2). Penalty: Donald.Teams:Bulls:
15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. Jaco Pretorius, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Fourie du Preez, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Dewald Johan Potgieter, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Victor Matfield (captain), 4. Bakkies Botha, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Derick Kuun, 1. Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: 16. Chilliboy Ralepelle, 17. Rayno Gerber, 18. Danie Rossouw, 19. Pedrie Wannenburg, 20. Heini Adams, 21. Burton Francis, 22. Marius DelportChiefs:
15. Mils Muliaina (captain), 14. Lelia Masaga, 13. Richard Kahui, 12. Callum Bruce, 11. Dwayne Sweeney, 10. Stephen Donald, 9. Toby Morland, 8. Sione Lauaki, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 6. Liam Messam, 5. Kevin O'Neill, 4. Craig Clarke, 3. James McGougan, 2. Aled De Malmanche, 1. Sona Taumalolo
Replacements: 16. Hikawera Elliott, 17. Joe Savage, 18. Toby Lynn, 19. Serge Lilo, 20. David Bason, 21. Mike Delany, 22. Sosene Anesi