PRETORIA, April 21 (Reuters) - Three first-half tries set the scene for the fast-improving Bulls to register a 28-10 victory over the Melbourne Rebels in their Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Bulls outscored their Australian visitors by four tries to one to register a third win in a row, take a bonus point and stay second in the South African conference, behind their neighbours the Lions.
The Pretoria-based side, who had an impressive 40-10 away win over the Sharks last week, picked up matters where they had left off in Durban and crossed their opponents’ line after just five minutes as captain Adrian Strauss surged over for his fifth try of the campaign.
Jesse Kriel ran on to a clever chip kick over the Rebels’ defence from fellow centre Burger Odendaal for the home team’s second try in the 23rd minute as the Bulls dominated the early exchanges.
The Bulls had several more chances to score before halftime but a litany of handling errors let them down while the Rebels missed two easy-looking penalties.
On the stroke of halftime, wing Divan Rossouw extended the home side’s try scoring and they went into the break 21-3 ahead.
But the Rebels, despite having to deal with the thin air of the high-altitude venue, came back strongly after the interval and scored a try six minutes into the second half from scrumhalf Michel Ruru.
Both sides were then guilty of regularly turning over possession and it was only seven minutes from time that the home side took advantage of the tiring Rebels, taking a quick tap penalty and seeing substitute Andre Warner dart over for another try.
The two teams have now won four and lost four of their opening eight games of the season. The Rebels stay in South Africa for a second game at the Stormers in Cape Town on Friday while the Bulls host the Otago Highlanders from New Zealand next Saturday. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Durban, editing by Clare Fallon)