Crusaders stop the rot
The Crusaders brought their winless streak to an end with a clinical 41-19 dismantling of the Bulls at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.
After a slow start, the hosts clicked into fifth gear and outscored the previously unbeaten Bulls six tries to one for a deserved bonus-point win.
The Bulls broke one record last week by winning at Eden Park for the first time but failed to conquer new ground as the visitors went missing in action, and hardly threatened the Crusaders tryline.
The same couldn't be said of the red and black army, who dominated territory and possession as the match progressed, running strongly and building phases with superb support play.
After Dan Carter and Morne Steyn exchanged early penalties, the tries began to flow once the Crusaders made their passes stick.
Robbie Fruean touched down first after a sustained forward build-up. It was a confidence-boosting try for the centre, whose four previous touches of the ball had either gone to ground or been followed by misdirected passes.
With the Crusaders forwards dominating the Bulls pack, Kieran Read was driven over for their second try and Johnny McNicholl touched down on the stroke of half-time for their third to lead 22-9 at the break.
The Bulls had kept their side of the scoreboard moving with Steyn penalties and he added a fourth immediately after the resumption of play to briefly narrow the gap before the Crusaders scored their bonus-point fourth try.
Wing Tom Marshall - who was a standout for the Crusaders - cut through the Bulls midfield and outpaced the cover defence in a 40-metre dash to the line.
Marshall was also instrumental in the next try, with a 50-metre break from turnover ball which resulted in prop Wyatt Crockett crashing over out wide.
Deon Stegmann drove over from a line-out for the visitors' sole try of the match before replacement scrum-half Willi Heinz crossed for the Crusaders' sixth try and hammer the final nail in the Bulls' coffin.
Tries: Fruean, McNicholl, Read, Marshall, Crockett, Heinz
Cons: Carter 4
Pens: Steyn 4
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Adam Whitelock.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Jürgen Visser, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandrè Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Jan Serfontein.
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)