Super Rugby’s defending champions Bulls obliterated the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday night with Springbok centre Wynand Olivier scoring a hat-trick in his team’s 47-10 victory at Loftus Versfeld.
The home side ran in six tries in the first half with Olivier and fullback Zane Kirchner each bagging a brace en route to their 40-3 halftime lead.
Olivier picked up his third with 20 minutes left to play in the match.
The other first half five-pointers were scored by wing Bjorn Basson — from a standing start — and stand-in skipper Fourie du Preez who caught the visitors napping at a defensive scrum.
Basson’s try was the easiest the lightning fast winger will ever score in Super Rugby as the Rebels, and Basson, were under the impression that referee Chris Pollock was going to take play back to a previous infringement.
Fortunately for the winger, Oliver was quick to point out that he had an open goal line to run at.
As far as the set phases were concerned, the Bulls looked far more accurate in their execution than has been the case in most of their matches this season.
They lost very few of their own put-ins at the line-outs while props Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger were their usual intimidating selves at the ruck fringes.
Credit must, however, go the newly established Melbourne squad for fighting to the end.
Their determination to stay in the game was best displayed after the break when replacement Cooper Vuna scored his team’s first, and only, try of the match.
But for a fumble, fullback Richard Kingi could have added another near the end of the match when his side broke through the home side’s defensive line.
With the match practically in the bag after the first 40 minutes of play, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke decided to give some of his substitutes an extended run on the park.
This had an influence on the momentum the men from Pretoria had enjoyed with earlier on.
Where they scored 40 points in the first half, the Bulls only managed to put seven past the visitors in the second half.
Confidence in the Bulls camp will, however, be at a more familiar level just in time for next weeks crucial encounter with the Sharks in Durban.
Scorers: Bulls 47(40): Tries – Wynand Olivier (three), Zane Kirchner (two), Bjorn Basson, Fourie du Preez. Conversions: Morne Steyn (six)
Rebels 10(three): Try — Cooper Vuna. Conversion: Julian Huxley. Penalty -Huxley (one). — Sapa