Bulls consign Melbourne Rebels to wooden spoon
July 11, 2014
Handre Pollard scored 18 points for the Bulls
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The Bulls overpowered Melbourne Rebels in the second half at Loftus Versfeld, scoring 28 unanswered points to consign the Australian side to the Super Rugby wooden spoon.
The Rebels trailed by just five points at half-time as they chased their first win abroad, and they had looked the better of the teams while failing to convert pressure into points with Jack Debreczeni missing three penalty goals. Their new five-eighth, who replaced the injured Bryce Hegarty, had a mixed bag as he scored his first Super Rugby try in the opening stanza.
Their cause wasn't helped when skipper Scott Fuglistaller was given a yellow card for repeated team infringements at the breakdown. Fuglistaller was making his first start as captain following Scott Higginbotham's suspension after his third yellow card of the season.
Melbourne's good defensive work in the first half fell away to allow Bulls lock Paul Willemse to cross in the opening minute of the second half after a break by fullback Jurgen Visser. Willemse, who himself was yellow-carded in the first half for a tip tackle on Hugh Pyle, added another try in the 51st minute after well-worked set play from the lineout.
The Bulls had all the momentum and Springboks winger Francois Hougaard then showed some dazzling footwork to stand up fullback Telusa Veainu.
Five-eighth Handre Pollard finished with 18 points from four penalties and three conversions in a flawless night before he was replaced.
Bulls 40-7 Rebels (Australia only)
Melbourne toiled hard, but they made increasingly frequent errors and the Bulls put the nail in the coffin in the 77th minute when reserve prop Dean Greyling barrelled over to touch down.
Fuglistaller said the Rebels' second half fade-out had become a common occurrence with the young team struggling in the back-end of the season. "Last week we also had a great first half and we felt pretty confident coming out," he said. "It's been a bit of a pattern the last five weeks but we've got a young group and that sort of experience will hold us in good stead."
Rebels coach Tony McGahan credited the Bulls for taking their opportunities.
"In the second half we were dominated through the set piece and gave away field position with some penalties," he said. "That, coupled with some crucial turnovers, took momentum away from us, but you have to give the Bulls credit. If you give them 90 metres of field position from back-to-back penalties, they will take advantage. We didn't make them work hard enough for their points, and they did just that."
Colby Fainga'a was the standout performer for the Rebels in his 50th Super Rugby appearance, proving a constant menace at the breakdown, while Luke Burgess and Luke Jones also played well.
The match was the last in Rebels colours for Pyle and Alex Rokobaro, while Hurricanes-bound Woodward sat out the fixture with a back injury.