A supercharged Bulls team beat the Investec Stormers 75-14 in their Vodacom Super 12 rugby match played at Securicor Loftus in Pretoria on Saturday.
The Bulls scored nine tries in a command performance during which their young flyhalf Morne Steyn contributed 35 points through a try and a 100 percent kicking record of nine conversions and four penalties.
Bryan Habana got the Bulls on the board within four minutes and after that there was only one team on the field as Anton Leonard and his men produced arguably one of the best Super 12 performances by a South African side in the history of the tournament.
With their juggernaut pack setting the tone the Bulls led 30-7 at halftime and then blew the Investec Stormers, whose frustration led to Schalk Burger and Riaan Olckers incurring a yellow and red card respectively, off the park for the fourth biggest (and the biggest by a South African side) victory in the history of the tournament.
The victory meant the Bulls not only secured their position in the semi-finals but also moved up to third place on the log – thus securing a much easier away trip to play the Waratahs in Sydney next Saturday rather than the additional travel involved in playing the Crusaders in Christchurch had they finished fourth.
Before a Loftus fullhouse the Bulls would have sent an ominous message to the Waratahs and also to Springbok coach Jake White who was preparing to name his first squad of the year later in the evening.
In the end the Man of the Match Award went to Steyn but it could quite easily have gone to centre JP Nel or any number of other Bulls.
Nel had a hand in the first two Bulls tries, first by smashing Jean de Villiers in a tackle and dislodging the ball that was snapped up by Habana, and then by neatly putting Akona Ndungane away on the blindside for the second before himself scoring a stunning try as he beat four tackles on his way to the line.
In the semi-final the Bulls will be trying to overturn a 42-12 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Waratahs at the Aussie Stadium on March 26; Week Five of the tournament.
Bulls 75: Tries by Bryan Habana (4 min), Akona Ndungane (24 min), Habana (38 min), JP Nel (57 min), Pedrie Wannenburg (62 min), Morne Steyn (68 min), Ettienne Botha (80 min), Wessel Roux (85 min) and Richard Bands (87 min). Morne Steyn kicked 9 conversions and four penalties.
Stormers 14: Tries by Gus Theron (33 min) and Eddie Andrews (72 min). Gaffie du Toit kicked two conversions.