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Bulls crush Waikato in final for Super 14 crown

THE Bulls won their second Super 14 title when they romped over the Waikato Chiefs by a record 61-17 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

Unlike when the Bulls won their first championship two years ago in the last minute, this time their first home final was won by halftime when the favored Bulls led 34-7 against the first-time finalists from New Zealand.

Bulls captain Victor Matfield paid tribute to coach Frans Ludeke. "He led from the front, and made us believe in ourselves from November last year," he said.

After the Chiefs surprised with the first early try, the suddenly quiet 52,000 fans at Loftus picked up their party mood again when scrumhalf Fourie du Preez launched their eight-try stampede with a pair in a three-minute span. Then winger Bryan Habana twice stuck a dagger in the Chiefs' hearts when, after multi-phase attacks into Bulls turf, they lost possession and twice turned around to watch Habana scoring behind their own tryline.

With flyhalf Morne Steyn's boot as straight as an arrow, the Bulls had victory secured by the break.

"They showed us how to play," Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina said.

The Chiefs, edged out of topping the regular season standings by only a point by the Bulls, continued valiantly after the break to make the score respectable. They got within 20 points at 37-17. But after toiling to work the ball far upfield, turnovers kept hurting them.

Matfield, center Wynand Olivier, No. 8 Pierre Spies and replacement lock Danie Rossouw added tries to help rack up the highest score in a final in the event's 13-year history.

The Chiefs' tries went to Muliaina and winger Lelia Masaga, who rounded off a run by flyhalf Stephen Donald as he countered a Bulls kick ahead in the seventh minute.

Bulls fans were shocked into silence but, two minutes later, a break by fullback Zane Kirchner into the Chiefs 22 earned a penalty, and Du Preez took a quick tap and burst over between two defenders.

Three minutes later, Du Preez sprinted onto a pass from a turnover, and ran half the length of the field to beat Muliaina to the right corner for a lead that was never threatened.


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