UPDATE 1-Rugby-Bulls humiliate defending champions Queensland Reds
PRETORIA, South Africa, March 24 (Reuters) - Defending Super Rugby champions the Queensland Reds came horribly unstuck at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday when they were hammered 61-8 by the Northern Bulls.
It was the second time in five years that the Reds had been humiliated at Loftus following a record 92-3 loss in 2007.
The Reds were missing several injured members of their triumphant 2011 team, notably flyhalf Quade Cooper, centre Anthony Faingaa and wing Digby Ioane, and they were never in the contest on Saturday.
"It was a bad night at the office all round, the performance
was poor by us and a couple more injuries have added salt to the wound," Reds coach Ewen McKenzie told a news conference.
"We hit a red-hot Bulls team tonight, they were very fresh and powerful."
The Bulls scored just one try in the first half through fullback Zane Kirchner after a five-metre scrum but flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked three penalties and a conversion to give them a handy 16-3 lead.
However, the Bulls were creating space on attack almost at will and the Reds plunged into despair midway through the second half as the Bulls scored three tries to open up a 37-3 lead.
The powerful running of flank Jacques Potgieter and the great hands of Steyn put centre Wynand Olivier over for a try in the second minute of the half, before the strength of lock Flip van der Merwe carried him over the line in the 15th minute.
Potgieter then scored the try of the match as he burst clear from the halfway line and held off the cover defence to score the bonus point try.
Replacement scrumhalf Jano Vermaak sniped over from a ruck in the 66th minute, before flank CJ Stander, who chased turnover ball well all evening, scored from a rolling maul six minutes later.
Replacement flyhalf Louis Fouche's conversion put the Bulls' score past the half-century mark and the substitutes continued to tear into the Reds, with centre JJ Engelbrecht and fullback Bjorn Basson scoring tries in the last five minutes.
"Everything came together tonight, it was a special performance, everyone brought something. It just wasn't the Reds night, they were disrupted by injuries and citings, and I feel sorry for them," Bulls captain Pierre Spies said.
(Reporting by Ken Borland; Editing by John Mehaffey)
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