Bulls sweep aside Kings, qualify for S15 playoffs
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The Bulls swept aside the Southern Kings 48-18 and qualified for the Super Rugby playoffs with an eighth straight victory on Saturday.
The Bulls’ six-try win sent them above the ACT Brumbies and second overall to New Zealand’s Chiefs, guaranteeing them a top-six finish and strengthening the three-time champion’s hold on the South African conference. The Bulls haven’t lost since being edged 23-20 by ACT in Australia on March 30.
Backs Louis Fouche, Jan Serfontein and Francois Hougaard and forwards Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jacques Potgieter and Deon Stegmann scored tries at Loftus Versfeld for the Bulls, who could afford to start the round-18 game with some of their Springboks on the bench and still improve to 11-3 and climb two points off the Chiefs.
The Bulls and ACT are level on 59 points but the Pretoria-based Bulls have won one more game. The top two teams will earn precious home semifinals.
The Kings had two tries from flanker Wimpie van der Walt but look set to finish last in the conference and face an end-of-season relegation playoff.
Having beaten the Kings 34-0 in round 10, the Bulls secured a four-try bonus point in 34 minutes on Saturday with a clean break down the middle from scrumhalf Hougaard. He added to tries by flyhalf Fouche in the 8th, hooker Ralepelle in the 29th and young South Africa center Serfontein in the 31st.
Bulky flanker Potgieter went over in the 61st with an unstoppable burst off a ruck and the other Bulls flanker, Stegmann, finished off the try-scoring in a late rolling maul.
Springboks No. 10 Morne Steyn came on earlier than expected after an injury to Fouche inside 20 minutes and kicked seven from eight at goal to pass 200 points for the season.
Both of Van der Walt’s tries came from lineout drives, one just before halftime and the other just after.
The Kings have won three of 14 games in their debut season with one draw, but if they remain the lowest-placed South African team they will play off against the Johannesburg-based Lions for their Super 15 place next year.
Bulls 48 (Louis Fouche, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jan Serfontein, Francois Hougaard, Jacques Potgieter, Deon Stegmann tries; Morne Steyn 5 conversions, 2 penalties, Fouche conversion), Southern Kings 18 (Wimpie van der Walt 2 tries; Demetri Catrakilis conversion, 2 penalties). HT: 31-13.