The Hurricanes have defeated the Bulls 50-22 in their week nine Rebel Sport Super 14 encounter in Pretoria on Sunday morning (NZT).
In an electrifying performance of exhilarating running rugby, the Hurricanes were comprehensive seven tries to three winners over the defending Super 14 champions the Bulls, to move to 26 competition points and back into top four contention with five round-robin fixtures remaining.
The Hurricanes did the damage early, running in their first four tries in just 21 minutes of play and opening up a 28-3 lead with almost three quarters of the game remaining.
They were fast out of the blocks, scoring converted tries to Ma'a Nonu (5th minute), Chris Masoe (10th), Conrad Smith (16th) and Nonu again (21st) to leave the Bulls reeling and turning the intimidating Loftus Versfeld Stadium into an amphitheatre of destruction.
Nonu's opener was terrific, the powerful midfielder punching his way through the Bulls' midfield defence off the shoulder of first five-eighth Jimmy Gopperth from an attacking Hurricanes scrum.
Superb support play and an interchange in passing saw openside Masoe finish off a well-constructed team try in the corner, centre Smith pinned his ears back and raced 30 metres to the tryline after the Hurricanes forwards had won a lineout turnover, and the rampant Nonu collected his double with a flying intercept on halfway and 50 metre run to score under the posts.
From there it was effectively game over, the Hurricanes able to ride on their wave of early scoring as the Bulls attempted to mount a comeback late in the first half. But the Hurricanes were able to turn their stunning attack into strong defence to hold them out - even with two Hurricanes players in the sin bin at one time in centre Smith and blindside Jerry Collins.
The Bulls capitalised on the Hurricanes' 13-man defence just once, No.8 Pierre Spies crashing over from a scrum and first five-eighth Derick Hougaard converted to make it 28-10 at halftime.
More excellent defence by the Hurricanes early in the second half helped thwart another likely Bulls foray at their line, twice defending a defensive lineout and hooker Andrew Hore holding up a probable Bulls try on the chalk. The Hurricanes then won a turnover from the resulting scrum and escaped with their line intact.
Gopperth extended the lead in the 50th minute to 31-10 with a sweetly struck long-range penalty, after just missing a similar penalty attempt moments earlier.
This was then followed by another excellent period of Hurricanes defence, the visiting team asked to absorb a series of raids inside their own half by their now desperate Bulls opposition.
But instead the Hurricanes once more broke out of their territory with more confident support play and continuity and scored the clincher in the 63rd minute. It was jubilant reserve hooker Hika Elliot who came up with the five pointer after being driven over the line from an attacking lineout for the Hurricanes' fifth of the afternoon. Gopperth maintained his one hundred percent conversion ratio to extend the lead to 38-10.
This try was scored moments after Smith was prevented scoring what appeared to a likely try when he was held back by Bulls second five-eighth Wynand Olivier and prevented from from regathering his own chip and chase with the tryline open.
Olivier was sinbinned for his actions and in is absence the Hurricanes went on to score two more tries.
The floodgates opened again two minutes later when fullback Cory Jane fielded a high kick on halfway and quickly counterattacked with left wing Paku, who scorched up the sideline to score their sixth try and make it 43-10.
Try number seven was scored by Jane, who flashed over from close range off the shoulder of Piri Weepu off an attacking scrum in front of the Bulls' posts. It was fitting that Weepu kicked the conversion to this try to bring up 50 points for the Hurricanes in his 50th match for the side.
The damage done, the Bulls were able to salvage something for their fans in scoring two consolation tries over the final ten minutes, openside Wikus van Heerden and prop Jaco Engels both benefiting from a late rally by the home side to narrow the final margin to 28 points.
This match was the first of three in South Africa on this trip. Next week they play the Stormers in Cape Town in what will be the Hurricanes' 150th Super rugby fixture, ahead of a clash with the Cheetahs in Kimberley the following Saturday.
Some key match statistics:
Piri Weepu became the 19th player to appear in 50 Super rugby matches for the Hurricanes.
It was the 17th time the Bulls have conceded 50 points in a match and the second time against the Hurricanes. They previously won 64-32 at New Plymouth in 1997.
It was the sixth time at Pretoria that the Bulls have conceded 50 points.
The Hurricanes win upset their previous sequence of LWLWLW in matches at Pretoria.
It was the Hurricanes' 13th win in 26 matches in South Africa. This gives them a 50% success rate.
It was only the Hurricanes' fourth time they have scored 50 points in a Super match and first since beating the Highlanders 60-34 at Athletic Park in 1997. In fact all three previous occasions were back in 1997.
The Hurricanes have not scored seven tries in a match since beating the Brumbies 49-37 at Wellington in 2005.
The Hurricanes have won eight Super matches against the Bulls including the last three in a row. The Bulls have beaten the Hurricanes five times.
The Hurricanes team that played the Bulls in Pretoria on Sunday morning was:
15 Cory Jane, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Shannon Paku, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So'oialo (captain), 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger. 16 Hikawera Elliot, 17 Neemia Tialata, 18 Jacob Ellison, 19 Craig Clarke, 20 Scott Waldrom, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Tamati Ellison.