PRETORIA (AFP) - Northern Bulls scored eight tries Saturday as they humiliated defending Super 15 champions Queensland Reds 61-8 at Loftus Versfeld.
The three-time title-holders from South Africa turned over 16-3 ahead against the Australians and ran riot in the second half against luckless and demoralised opponents.
Queensland began the match without a number of injured backline stars like Quade Cooper, Mike Harris and Ben Lucas and suspended Digby Ioane and hooker Saia Faingaa and centre Jonathan Lance retired hurt during the match.
A Reds team skippered by veteran lock James Horwill looked a pale shadow of the team that defeated Canterbury Crusaders in Brisbane last year for a maiden southern hemisphere provincial title.
The loss of 'super boot' Harris, injured last week in a much narrower loss to Coastal Sharks in Durban, has been particularly hard felt with Lance missing two of three shots at goal and scrum-half Will Genia also unsuccessful.
While the Reds were failing with kicks at goal, Bulls and Springbok fly-half Morne Steyn was back to his best after a below-par showing in a shock loss to New Zealand visitors Auckland Blues two weeks ago.
Steyn repeatedly stresses the importance of landing his first kick and he slotted a penalty against the Reds with his initial attempt and went on to succeed with all eight efforts -- five conversions and three penalties.
This 19-point haul lifted him to second on the Super 15 scorers charts after five rounds with 66 points, 15 less than compatriot and Central Cheetahs teenage fly-half Johan Goosen.
"It was an unbelievable performance," boasted Pierre Spies, the Bulls skipper and a possible successor to retired hooker John Smit as captain of the Springboks.
"The boys were awesome and I am so proud of them. Having a bye last weekend helped us to regroup and some players needed the time off to recover from injuries."
Full-back Zane Kirchner, centre Wynand Olivier, lock Flip van der Merwe, flank Jacques Potgieter, replacement scrum-half Jano Vermaak, flank CJ Stander, replacement wing JJ Engelbrecht and wing Bjorn Basson scored the Bulls' tries.
After Steyn was substituted during the second half, understudy Louis Fouche had less success, landing only one of three conversions for the Bulls, who are away to Western Stormers in Cape Town next weekend.
Lance cancelled the early Steyn penalty for his lone success with the boot and wing Dom Shipperley went over for a try on the hour mark by which time the Bulls had already put 37 points on the scoreboard.