Pretoria - The Bulls, with their second big win in two outings, remained top of the Super 14 log when they beat the Blues 59-26 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday after a scintillating first half and a resurgence right at the end that saw them score seven tries to four.
The Bulls must have surprised the visitors with their willingness to run and their effectiveness in doing so - especially in the first half when they ran with structure and scored their fourth try for the bonus point after only 24 minutes.
Their lineouts and scrums were good, but it was their support and speed to the breakdown that set the platform for the big win. Their kicking, of which there was again more than usual in line with their style and as dictated by the ELVs, was mostly of high quality and the Bulls generally looked like a quality side playing the quality rugby expected of them in the first half.
And what a first half it was. Six tries, continual movement and some great and hard hits on defence - and some illegal, like the one Blues win Rene Ranger was not penalised for and saw Derick Kuun leave the field -made it good fare for the spectators.
It was also good news for the Bulls coaching staff, who must have been just a tad worried after an average to fairly good match last weekend.
They would have been concerned with too many slipped tackles in the second half which saw the Blues add two more tries and shrink the gap to 46-26 before the Bulls pulled away again.
Less than five minutes had elapsed when Fourie du Preez launched the first really high one on the Blues. The Bulls were there, recycled and Du Preez stabbed through a grubber that Bryan Habana reached just in time in the left hand corner before it crossed the deadball line. Morne Steyn converted from the corner (7-0).
Dewald Potgieter stretched the lead after 15 minutes after a strong Pierre Spies run had set up a sequence of Bulls rucks. Steyn made it 14-0.
Zane Kirchner went over after 21 minutes when Du Preez went to the right side from a scrum for the unerring Steyn at that stage - to again convert from touch (21-0).
Spies added to the agony when he ran 50 metres for the bonus point try after less than 24 minutes when a kick from Blues wing Paul Williams went astray, but this time Steyn was just wide from a similar spot (26-0).
The points spree continued with the Blues scoring after 26 minutes when they used the overlap for Rene Ranger to score in the corner and Jimmy Gopperth to convert after Habana overshot on the defence and Steyn then struck a drop from 38 metres out after barely 28 minutes (29-7).
And still it continued. This time with a Blues try by Anthony Tuitavake converted by Gopperth after quick recycling (29-14) before Steyn stretched the Bulls lead once again with a penalty to make it 32-14, which was the half-time score.
Steyn slotted a penalty just after the break. Du Preez, running around the front of the lineout, collected in the Blues' 22 and ran all the way for the Bulls' fifth try. Again Steyn converted from touch (42-14).
Loss of focus, or perhaps just pacing themselves for the second week running when well ahead, saw the Bulls concede two tries in the second half. It is something that could boomerang against stronger sides and has to be addressed.
In between the two tries by Onasa'I Auva'a and Isala Toeava Steyn kicked another penalty to make it 45-26.
Then Spies rubbed salt into the Blues' wounds during a quiet patch for the spectators when he jinxed around an opponent and then simply ignored the next two to score his second try, with Burton Francis converting, and then it was Wynand Olivier's turn for Francis to convert and make it 59-26.
Bulls: Tries: Bryan Habana, Dewald Potgieter, Pierre Spies (2), Zane Kirchner, Fourie du Preez, Wynand Olivier. Conversions: Morne Steyn (4), Burton Francis (2). Penalties: Steyn (3). Drop kick: Steyn.
Blues: tries: Rene Ranger, Anthony Tuitavake, Onasa'I Auva'a, Isala Toeava. Conversions: Jimmy Gopperth (3).