The Crusaders got their season going with a convincing 41-19 bonus-point victory over the Bulls in Christchurch on Saturday.
It was the first win of the season for the seven-time champions, who handed the Bulls their first defeat of 2013 in a dominant display, outscoring them by six tries to one.
The Crusaders took the game to the Bulls early on but a number of handling errors held them back, with outside centre Robbie Fruean the main culprit.
The teams exchanged penalties before Fruean finally managed to hold onto a pass, and went over for the opening try after a period of sustained pressure from the home side.
The Crusaders had their tails up and it was captain Kieran Read who barged over for another try soon afterwards, and although the Bulls hit back with another two penalties the home side had the final say in the first half with a try to Johnny McNicholl.
The visitors struck first in the second half when Morne Steyn kicked his fourth penalty, but the Crusaders had their bonus point wrapped up when Tom Marshall sliced his way through the Bulls' defensive line.
The Bulls desperately looked for a way back into the game, but they could not stop a devastating Crusaders counter-attack which ended with loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett bashing his way over for another try to make it 34-12.
The Bulls finally got over the whitewash when a driving maul saw Deon Stegmann crash over, but the Crusaders had the final say when replacement scrumhalf Willi Heinz darted over for a try.
More to follow...
For the Crusaders:
Tries: Fruean, Read, McNicholl, Marshall, Crockett, Heinz
Con: Carter 4
For the Bulls:
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 (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Samuel 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 Jurgen Visser, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné 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)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
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