Pretoria - Centre Wynand Olivier scored a hat-trick of tries for the Bulls who overwhelmed the Melbourne Rebels 47-10 in their Vodacom Super Rugby mis-match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Rebels, tournament newcomers on their first visit to one of South Africa's rugby fortresses, made most of the running in the first seven minutes, but were then outclassed as the defending champions scored seven tries to one.
The Bulls scored six of those tries in the first half, often with ridiculous ease, but the Rebels did make them work harder after the break.
"We found it very tough to get into the game because of turnovers and soft tries in the first half. We certainly have a lot to work on, and we can take it from the second half," said Rebels and former Australia captain Stirling Mortlock.
Victory kept the Bulls, who sit in eighth place, in playoff contention.
"It was an unbelievable first half, we scored some good, easy tries," Bulls captain Fourie du Preez said.
The Bulls rampage started after Olivier ran on to an excellent chip by flyhalf Morne Steyn, gathering the ball and speeding clear of the cover-defence.
The intensity of the Bulls game forced numerous mistakes from the Rebels and, after Steyn had hacked through a dropped pass to force a lineout on the 10m line, an exciting run by wing Bjorn Basson set up fullback Zane Kirchner for the second try.
A Julian Huxley penalty in the 17th minute would be the Rebels' only points of the first half and their shoulders dropped when the Bulls extended their lead thanks to a controversial try by Basson.
Kirchner appeared to have knocked on a pass and with all the defenders standing and waiting for the whistle, the Springbok wing picked up the ball and strolled over the line. The try was awarded as referee Chris Pollock ruled the ball had come off Kirchner's chest.
The Bulls followed up from the kick-off with a brilliant length-of-the-field try, Basson cracking on the pace and Olivier and outside centre Stephan Dippenaar combining to send Springbok Olivier over for his second try.
A fine backline move the allowed the pacy Kirchner to zip over for his second try and scrumhalf Du Preez scored three minutes before the break.
The Rebels regrouped and got their reward with a breathtaking try by replacement wing Cooper Vuna, who scorched down the right touchline and also showed good control with the boot in his kick-and-chase try.
Olivier had the last word, however, when he stepped back inside the defence to complete his hat-trick just before the hour.
In next weekend's Round 14 action, the Bulls travel to Durban to play the Sharks, while the Rebels tackle the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Stephan Dippenaar, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Danie Rossouw, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Francois Brummer, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Derick Kuun
15 Richard Kingi, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 12 Stirling Mortlock (captain), 11 Luke Rooney, 10 Julian Huxley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Hoani Macdonald, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Alastair Campbell, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Greg Somerville
Substitutes: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Nic Henderson, 18 Kevin O’Neill, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Tim Davidson, 21 Cooper Vuna, 22 Peter Betham