Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar clinched a bonus-point fourth try inside 25 minutesUnited Rugby ChampionshipBulls (28) 63Tries: Nortje, Hanekom 2, Grobbelaar, Kriel, Gans 2, Van der Merwe, Simelane Cons: Goosen 9Scarlets (14) 21Tries: McNicholl, Plumtree 2 Cons: Lloyd 3
Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel admitted his team were “blown away” by Bulls in a record nine-try United Rugby Championship (URC) rout in Pretoria.
Taine Plumtree scored twice on his debut after Johnny McNicholl crossed.
However Bulls had already wrapped up a bonus point inside just 24 minutes through Ruan Nortje, Cameron Hanekom and Johan Grobbelaar.
The South African then added five times in the second half to rack up the highest score against Scarlets.
That tally surpassed the 60 they conceded to Ospreys in 2010 while the 42-point losing margin was close to their worst, suffered on their visit to Loftus Versfeld two seasons ago.
Scarlets have not won their opening game of the season since 2019, but never have they started with such a brutal lesson.
Tom Rogers impressed on the left wing, fly-half Ioan Lloyd kicked well and young back-row pair Dan Davis and Ben Williams had moments at the breakdown.
Remarkably Scarlets were even chasing a bonus point in the final moments that would have given them something to cling to before facing Stormers in Cape Town next weekend.
But they were utterly over-powered in the 32-degree heat of Pretoria by a rampant home side.
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Bulls have not been beaten by a non-South African side at home in the league and that record rarely looked in danger after they crossed twice in the first six minutes.
Lock Nortje powered over from close range and Tom Rogers could do little to stop number eight Hanekom in the sixth minute.
Hanekom barged past opposite number Williams for his double before Grobbelaar clinched the bonus.
Rogers, part of the Wales World Cup training squad this summer, sparked a mini Scarlets revival before half-time.
His gliding run past four defenders ended with a penalty that saw McNicholl score in the corner.
Rogers then denied Elrigh Louw a try with a last-ditch tackle and then combined with Plumtree following a long line-out throw for the flanker to score his first Scarlets try and cut the lead to 28-14.
However Scarlets’ defence fell apart in the second half as David Kriel, Stedman Gans, twice, Akker van der Merwe and Wandisile Simelane all crossed and the pin-point boot of fly-half Johan Goosen, who converted all nine tries, took the score past 60.
Joe Roberts’ break set up a second for Plumtree against the run of play, but the consolation of a bonus point eluded Scarlets as they ensured all four Welsh regions lost on the opening weekend of the new campaign.
Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said:
“It was a lesson in execution. Bulls were very clinical in the first 25 minutes and errors cost us dearly.
“We managed to get back before half-time and the next score was probably crucial, but Bulls were physical and we were blown away.
“We were disappointed not to get the bonus point for four tries in the end, but we didn’t deserve it because of our mistakes.”
Bulls: Devon Williams; Sebastian de Klerk, David Kriel, Harold Vorster, Wandisile Simelane; Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier; Gerhard Steenekamp, Johan Grobbelaar, Wilco Louw, Ruan Vermaak, Ruan Nortje (co-capt), Marcell Coetzee (co-capt), Elrigh Louw, Cameron Hanekom.
Replacements: Akker van der Merwe, Simphiwe Matanzima, Mornay Smith, Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Zak Burger, Jaco van der Walt, Stedman Gans.
Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl; Tom Rogers, Joe Roberts, Jonathan Davies (capt), Ryan Conbeer; Ioan Lloyd, Kieran Hardy; Kemsley Mathias, Shaun Evans, Sam Wainwright, Alex Craig, Sam Lousi, Taine Plumtree, Dan Davis, Ben Williams.
Replacements: Isaac Young, Steff Thomas, Wyn Jones, Jac Price, Carwyn Tuipulotu, Archie Hughes, Charlie Titcombe, Ioan Nicholas.
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs & Cwengile Jadezweni (SARU)
TMO: Sam Grove-White (SRU)
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