Bulls' trophy awash with records
The Bulls were always starting as favourites to win their second Super 14 title, but few would have envisaged a 61-17 massacre over a Chiefs team that was outclassed almost from first whistle to last.
The Bulls players and management have for a while now spoken about their desire to build a dynasty, to start an era of dominance in the competition to rival that of the Crusaders.
At Loftus on Saturday, in front of a sell-out crowd awash in light blue, they added substance to their words with a performance that was emphatic as any seen in any final anywhere. It was their second title, and only two teams have won more Super 14 trophies now than they have -- the Crusaders and the Blues.
The Bulls scored eight tries to two, they led 34-7 at half time, the game was effectively over when they led 21-7 after just 15 minutes. The eight tries was a record for a Super 14 decider, so was the winning margin of 44 points, which eclipsed the 30 the Brumbies won by when they beat the Sharks 36-6 in Canberra in 2001.
Of course, it was also the first time any team had scored more than 50, and ultimately this was anything but the dour final that some might have been anticipating.
When Leila Masanga scored the first try for the Chiefs after just seven minutes had been elapsed no-one would have believed what was about to transpire. Zane Kirchner put up a poor kick, a rare occurrence for him, and his failure to follow it effectively put Masanga in space. You don’t catch Masanga when he is in space, and the try, which was converted to make it 7-0, was greeted by a surreal silence by the massive crowd.
But if the Bulls were as stunned as their supporters they did not show it. Not for nothing is Fourie du Preez rated as the best scrumhalf in the world, maybe even the best rugby player on the planet.
Kirchner, surely now the front-runner for the Springbok fullback jersey for the coming series against the British and Irish Lions, made the initial break for the first Bulls try, but then looked to have butchered it with poor decision-making. No problem, Du Preez just forced himself over from the recycle to level the scores.
The game had hardly been restarted when the Chiefs rather stupidly tried to run the ball from near their own tryline. A big tackle turned over their possession, and there was that man Du Preez, looking for all the world like a wing this time, scorching down the right touchline to make 14-7.
Du Preez then produced an excellent chip kick, just to show what a brilliant allround player he is, to send in Bryan Habana. Then came a trade-mark Morne Steyn drop-goal and a Steyn penalty to make it 27-7 with half time approaching.
A 20 point advantage for the Bulls at the break would already have them out of sight, but they were not done, Habana scoring an intercept try on the stroke of half time to further demoralise the visitors.
The Chiefs tried gamely in the early parts of the second half to fight their way back, and skipper Mils Muliaina did score a good try to bring the gap back to 20. No-one who was present would have been fooled into thinking that there was going to be a resurgence, however, as the Bulls were just too precise and physical, and their defence seldom looked like being breached.
There was a Stephen Donald penalty later, but the light blue tidal wave continued for the rest of the match, with skipper Victor Matfield capping his own excellent game with a try where he simply soared over a loose scrum on the corner flag.
There was another breakaway, this time scored by Pierre Spies, but perhaps the most deserved try was the one scored by Wynand Olivier, who was a constant thorn in the Chiefs’ defence and ended the competition as easily the best South African centre.
For the Chiefs there was a lot of honest endeavour, but they were simply never allowed to settle, either in terms of possession or territory, and it was why the second best team in the 2009 Super 14 came a very distant second on the deciding day.
Bulls 61 – Tries: Fourie du Preez 2, Bryan Habana 2, Victor Matfield, Pierre Spies, Wynand Olivier and Danie Rossouw; Conversions: Morne Steyn 5 and Burton Francis; Penalties: Morne Steyn 2; Drop-goal: Morne Steyn.
Chiefs 17 – Tries: Leila Masanga and Mils Muliaina; Conversions: Stephen Donald 2; Penalty: Stephen Donald.
CHELSEA WIN THE FA CUP
Scenes were blue again at Wembley when Guus scooped Silverware in the 2009 FA CUP Final. Everton went ahead in just 25 seconds with a cracker from Louis Saha. But the Drog levelled with a powerful header. And it was left to Chelseas loyal Frnak Lampard to deliver a screamer and take the FA CUP to Stamford Bridge. Well done Loks and other Chelsea supporters
It was great for the fact that Juve came runners uo in Serie A. That means no qualifying round for Europe.A great 2-0 victory over Lazio. Milan came third by beating Fiorentina 2-0. But Serie A ,Juve and Inter waived goodbye to to two gladiators. Pavel Nedved will run no more for Juve and Louis Figo's silky skill will be missed. Two great performers and class acts of the game.
Nedved will be remembered by me in that special Semi Final in Turin when his erformance in midfield was World Class. He snuffed out Figo and Zidane and scored the third goal. He was yellow carded and missed teh Final
Arivadece Pavel Nedved.You will always be a Bianconero and your blood black and White
Also Carlo Ancelotti has left Milan. Shakes Galliani has anounced Leonardo as a replacement. How have the Milan Fans been taking this.
And Nadal has bowed out of the French Open. Its a sensational upset. Against Robin Soderling of all people. This could be Federers year.