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RugbyU: Lock Willemse grabs two tries in big Bulls win


Lock Paul Willemse scored two tries as Northern Bulls triumphed 40-7 against Melbourne Rebels Friday in the final Super 15 match of the season for both teams.

It was a predictable outcome at a freezing Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria as Bulls did not lose at home this year and Rebels have never won in South Africa.

Former champions Bulls finished ninth on the combined standings because they lost all eight away games in the southern hemisphere provincial competition.

Rebels, who were without suspended No. 8 and skipper Scott Higginbotham, came last on the 15-team table with four victories and 12 losses.

"It was a disappointing season," admitted Bulls' veteran lock and skipper Victor Matfield, "but we gave five teenagers game-time tonight and the future is bright."

Rebels' stand-in skipper and flank Scott Fuglistaller was equally hopeful: "Recent results have been poor, but our youngsters are developing quickly."

New Springboks fly-half Handre Pollard kicked four penalty goals to give the home side a 12-7 half-time advantage before a crowd kept small by the mid-winter chill.

Fly-half Jack Debreczeni scored a try for the visitors midway through the opening half and converted it to give the Australians a 7-6 advantage.

However, Debreczeni fluffed three other shots at goal during the first 40 minutes, while Pollard finished with a perfect record from seven kicks at goal.

Rebels were temporarily reduced to 14 men seven minutes before half-time when Fuglistaller was yellow-carded after repeated infringements by the Australians.

Willemse, sin-binned during the first half for a dangerous off-the-ball tackle, claimed his first try two minutes into the second half.

Full-back Jurgen Visser broke through and Willemse was up in support to dive over with Pollard adding the extra two points for a 19-7 advantage.

The lock struck again on 52 minutes after replacement prop Dean Greyling made the hard yards when Bulls won a line-out close to Rebels' try-line.

It was now one-way traffic deep in Rebels' territory and any doubt about the outcome was settled just before the hour mark when left-wing Francois Hougaard went over.

Pollard converted both tries and Bulls were 19 points ahead with 20 minutes left on the final league weekend of the Super 15 season.

Rebels' powerful left-wing Tom English was held up having got over Bulls' line in a rare moment of anxiety for the hosts.

Greyling completed the scoring with a bonus-point fourth try for the blue-clad South Africans three minutes from time.

It was a typical Bulls score with a drive from a line-out, where Matfield excelled, and replacement fly-half Jacques-Louis Potgieter converted.