PRETORIA, May 23 (Reuters) - Flyhalf Morne Steyn set a Super 14 record with four drop goals in the Blue Bulls’ 36-23 victory over Canterbury Crusaders in their semi-final on Saturday.
Steyn also kicked three conversions and a penalty for 21 points while wings Bryan Habana and Akona Ndungane and number eight Pierre Spies scored tries for the 2007 champions.
Habana ran in the opening try in the 11th minute after taking a pass from a ruck just outside the 22-metre line, following a Stephen Brett penalty for the New Zealanders.
The Crusaders, however, enjoyed early dominance in the set-pieces and kept possession for long periods with patient phase play, wing Adam Whitelock eventually finding some space on the left touchline for their opening try.
Fullback Leon MacDonald converted and added a penalty before the visitors went into a 20-7 lead after 25 minutes when flanker Kieran Read robbed Ndungane of an up-and-under close to the posts and crashed over for a try which MacDonald converted.
The tone of the match changed on the half hour as the powerful South African forwards began to carry the ball.
Livewire flanker Deon Stegmann charged through three tackles before the ball was recycled and passed left where fullback Zane Kirchner showed quick hands to release Ndungane for his try.
Steyn added the conversion and then kicked two drops goals to level the scores at 20-20, with Crusaders number eight Thomas Waldrom having been yellow-carded for not releasing the tackled player in a ruck.
Spies then scored the try of the game, racing through from 60 metres on a magnificent solo run to send the Bulls into halftime 27-20 ahead.
Crusaders scrumhalf Andy Ellis scored the first points of the second half with a 51st-minute drop goal, but the Bulls remained in charge as they mended their problems in the set pieces and controlled possession and territory.
Steyn kicked an angled, 38-metre penalty in the 66th minute to extend the Bulls’ lead to 30-23 before adding a drop goal three minutes later.
The 24-year-old then kicked another drop from halfway to break the record of three in a match held jointly by New Zealand’s Andrew Mehrtens and South African Louis Koen.
The Waikato Chiefs will travel to Pretoria to take on the Bulls in next Saturday’s final. (Editing by Rex Gowar; to query or comment on this story email email@example.com)