Pretoria - Guaranteed a place in next week's Currie Cup semi-finals, the Blue Bulls overcame a poor first half to romp to a 46-12 (half-time 20-12) victory over the Griquas at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday evening.
The Bulls will once again feature in the playoffs after missing out last year and will face the pace-setting Western Province in Cape Town.
The hosts ran in six tries to two, with Bulls flyer Bjorn Basson scoring a hat-trick of tries.
The Bulls' performance in the first half against a spirited Griquas side fighting to move into the top-six, was all forgotten in the second half as they pulled away from the visitors in emphatic fashion.
Griquas gave the Bulls an uphill battle and for most of the first half they were within striking distance of their more esteemed opponents.
The Bulls opened the scoring only a minute after the kickoff when wing Basson intercepted a Tian Meyer pass to sprint from the half-\way line to score under the posts, with flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter converting.
The Peacock Blues bounced back from the early setback as they crossed the whitewash 10 minutes later following a counter attack deep inside their half.
Griquas flyer Ederies Arendse scored a classic try as he stepped inside then out to beat his opponent to run through for the try, with Francois Brummer converting to equalise.
Potgieter put his side back in the lead with a penalty conversion on the 20-minute mark before extending the lead to six points eight minutes later.
On the half-hour mark, Arendse struck again for his side's second try of the evening, with fullback Jacquin Jansen failing to convert for the lead.
Four minutes from the half-time break Griquas were reduced to 14 men when prop Simon Westraadt copped a yellow card for a dangerous tackle.
The Bulls made full use of the advantage as they set up the attacking lineout five metres out with captain Deon Stegmann dotting down from the back of the driving maul, while Potgieter converted for a 20-12 lead going into the break.
Shortly after the restart Basson, showing a return to form, scored his second and easiest try of the evening as he trotted over on the blindside following a five-metre scrum.
The on-fire wing scored his hat-trick and his side's bonus-point try of the evening in the 61st minute after receiving a well-weighted pass from replacement hooker Callie Visagie.
Eight minutes from time replacement Griquas hooker Rayno Barnes, playing in his 100th Currie Cup match was given his marching orders with match referee Pro Legoete showing a red card for swearing at the assistant official.
Two minutes later Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard made his presence felt by stepping past the defenders inside the Griquas 22 for the fifth try, which he also converted.
With a minute left on the clock it was right wing Akona Ndunage's turn for a five-pointer as he collected a Pollard chip-kick to run through for the try.Scorers:
Tries: Bjorn Basson (3), Deon Stegmann, Handre Pollard, Akona Ndungane
Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (3), Handre Pollard (2)
Penalties: Potgieter (2)
Tries: Ederies Arendse (2)
Conversion: Jacquin Jansen
15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann (captain), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Morné Mellett
Substitutes: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Wiaan Liebenberg, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Handre Pollard, 22 Jesse Kriel
15 Jacquin Jansen, 14 Danie Dames, 13 PJ Vermeulen, 12 Jonathan Francke, 11 Ederies Arendse, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Jonathan Adendorf, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Hugo Kloppers, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Simon Westraadt
Substitutes: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Wesley Cloete, 18 RJ Liebenberg , 19 TBA, 20 Rudi van Rooyen, 21 Dean Grant, 22 Doppies la Grange