Pretoria - The Bulls ended their Super Rugby season on a high note when they thumped the Melbourne Rebels 40-7 at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.As it happened: Bulls v Rebels
It took exactly 40 minutes for any kind of spark before the Bulls romped to victory on a chilly Pretoria evening.
They trudged to a 12-7 lead following a dreary first half which was perhaps expected of a dead rubber.
The Bulls finished their campaign in ninth place on the log and relegated the Rebels to the bottom and in the process prevent any of the other South African sides claiming the dreaded wooden spoon.
Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard turned in a flawless place-kicking performance with four penalties and three conversions.
The youngster opened the scoring with a penalty conversion seven minutes into the match before slotting another 13 minutes later.
Up to this point the Bulls were somewhat lucky to be leading by five points after Rebels flyhalf Jack Debreczeni fluffed two early attempts at goal.
In the same vein they gifted the Rebels with an early advantage when lock Paul Willemse was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle in the 16th minute.
Debreczeni soon had a chance to redeem himself when he found his way across the whitewash following a sneaky underhand pass from lock Cadeyrn Neville at the ruck to dot down and convert his own five-pointer.
The Rebels' slender lead was short-lived though as Pollard's trusty boot turned the one-point deficit into a five-point advantage with two penalty goals in the 26th and 31st minute.
Debreczeni had another bite at reducing the Bulls' lead on the half-time break but failed with his attempt.
The sparse Loftus Versfeld crowd were soon awoken from their first-half induced sleep when the hard-as-nails Willemse received a flat skip pass from scrumhalf Piet van Zyl to burst over the line for his side's first try of the evening.
Ten minutes later Willemse added his brace for a pick and go try that started with a Bulls lineout and subsequent driving maul.
Pollard added the conversion to extend his side's lead to 24-7 before Francois Hougaard, playing on the left wing, scored a fine individual try.
The fleet-footed player once again proved that he was more adept at playing on the wing where he can exploit space with his dangerous attacking runs.
The Bulls spread the ball wide to the left where Hougaard dazzled the defence with a little step to the inside before he rolled out of a tackle to score the third try of the evening.
The match again went into a slight lull before replacement prop Dean Greyling, who made a valuable contribution, found the tryline in the 77th minute for the bonus point.Scorers:Bulls:
Tries: Paul Willemse (2), Francois Hougaard, Dean Greyling
Conversions: Handre Pollard (3), Jacques-Louis Potgieter
Penalties: Pollard (4)Rebels:
Try: Jack Debreczeni
15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jono Ross, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Morné Mellett
Substitutes: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Dean Greyling, 19 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20 Marvin Orie, 21 Jesse Kriel, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 William-Small Smith. Rebels:
15 Jason Woodward, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Colby Fainga'a, 7 Scott Fuglistaller (captain), 6 Luke Jones, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Toby Smith
Substtutes: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Sam Jeffries, 23 Alex Rokobaro