Rugby - Bulls blow Hurricanes away with six tries in Pretoria

All Black centre Conrad Smith was knocked out and taken to hospital as South Africa's Bulls blew past New Zealand's Hurricanes 48-14 in a one-sided Super Rugby contest at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Reuters
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The visitors lost their captain just before the half-hour mark when he came off worse in a tackle with JJ Engelbrecht and was carried off on a stretcher.

The fourth straight win for the Pretoria franchise lifted the Bulls to the top of the South African conference, two points ahead of the second-placed Cheetahs.

The Bulls have improved steadily as the season has gone on and captain Pierre Spies said their set-piece dominance had laid the platform for the latest win.

"It was a pretty good night for us, we had a good start and that created the foundation. We are putting a lot of focus on our set-pieces and having a lineout coach like Victor Matfield has really helped," he told television reporters.

"We are now looking forward to a bye next week. It will be nice to sit-back and watch everybody else battle it out."

Two Morne Steyn penalties had the Bulls in front early before they were gifted the opening try. Hurricanes prop Ben Franks attempted a long pass that was intercepted by Engelbrecht who coasted in for the score.

The home side's second try was all about power as they took the lineout inside the Hurricanes 22 and mauled the ball over the line with ease, with flanker Deon Stegmann eventually emerging to claim the try.

That made the scoreline 20-0 with 15 minutes remaining in the half and it got worse for the visitors when Akona Ndungane secured another intercept try that was converted by Steyn.

The Hurricanes were out-muscled in the forwards and made too many handling errors among the backs in the first half but started the second period well as scrumhalf TJ Perenara finished off an excellent move that began with Steyn's deep kick-off from the restart.

The Bulls secured their bonus point try when prop Dean Greyling powered over the line after good work from Bjorn Basson to break into the Hurricanes 22.

The forwards took over from the winger and although Greyling was tackled short, momentum took him over the line.

Perenara crossed for his second try before replacement wing Lionel Mapoe crossed for the Bulls' fifth effort shortly after Hurricanes lock Jason Eaton was yellow-carded for taking out the support player at a line-out.

Louis Fouche scored a first Super Rugby five-pointer after being set up by Steyn, and then added the extra two points himself to round out the scoring.

"There were too many errors from our boys today, we also gave away too many penalties. It wasn't the best day in the office for us set-piece wise either and the Bulls put a lot of pressure on us in our own half," said Victor Vito, who replaced Smith as captain.

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