Scrumhalf Augustine Pulu scored the opening try for the Blues against the Bulls. Photo: www.photosport.co.nz

AUCKLAND – The Blues scored five second-half tries to clinch an impressive 38-14 bonus-point win over the Bulls on Saturday.

The Bulls’ season has descended into considerable trouble early on in the Super Rugby competition.

The team from Pretoria have now lost three out of four games, and on the basis of this performance, they’re set for a miserable couple of weeks on the road.

As it is, the Bulls had only picked up one win out from their last 10 matches in New Zealand before this defeat to the Blues, while that poor run is unlikely to change when they come up against the high-flying Chiefs next weekend.

The Bulls were particularly poor in the second half against the Blues, with the New Zealanders scoring 31 points to seven as the visitors meekly succumbed to defeat.

On a beautiful evening at the North Harbour Stadium in Albany, it initially appeared as if there could be an exciting encounter on the cards when some excellent handling from the Blues’ backs created a superb try for scrumhalf Augustine Pulu early on.

However, there was very little else to shout about in the opening stanza, with the Bulls battling to establish any momentum despite their best efforts to play with ball-in-hand.

Big prop Lizo Gqoboka did manage to barge over and score just before the quarter-hour mark, but a rather dour half fizzled out from there, with the scores remaining deadlocked at 7-7 at the break.

There is no doubt both coaches would have called for their players to clean up their act on attack, but it was the Blues who came out of the change-rooms with greater intent.

That soon saw them rewarded with a 45th-minute try to wing Matt Duffie, who burst through some poor Bulls defence.

Things then went from bad to worse for the Bulls, with a perfectly-weighted cross-kick from Blues flyhalf Piers Francis setting up a second try for Duffie that suddenly opened up a 12-point buffer heading into the final quarter.

The Bulls did appear to receive a lifeline when Blues flank Jimmy Tupou was sent to the sin-bin for a neck roll, but the woeful Bulls failed to make anything of their numbers advantage.

Instead, the Blues went over for another try as replacement Ihaia West dotted down, while Matt Moulds and Melani Nanai piled on the punishment with two more tries soon after the hosts had been restored to their full complement of players.

Rudy Paige did score one late consolation try for the Bulls, but this was a match for them to forget.

Points-Scorers

Blues 38: Tries: Augustine Pulu, Matt Duffie (2), Ihaia West, Matt Moulds, Melani Nanai. Conversions: Piers Francis (2), West (2).

Bulls 14: Tries: Lizo Gqoboka, Rudy Paige. Conversions: Handré Pollard (1), Tian Schoeman (1).