Bulls ease pressure on Ludeke, Chiefs rout Crusaders

The Bulls defeated the Sharks in a pulsating clash in Pretoria, as the Crusaders were humbled by the Chiefs in Super Rugby action.

The Bulls earned a first Super Rugby win of the season in a pulsating 43-35 triumph over the Sharks to ease the pressure on under-fire coach Frans Ludeke.

After two disappointing home defeats to start the campaign, the Bulls finally kickstarted their season on home soil with a bonus-point win at Loftus Versfeld - a victory that will be a huge relief to Ludeke, who has faced heavy criticism in the past week.

The match was not without incident, particularly the decision of the television match official to award a Francois Hougaard try that put the Bulls 16-6 ahead with replays suggesting that Jesse Kriel's final pass was forward after an excellent run from the full-back.

The Sharks fought back from 33-22 down to lead with seven minutes left, but a late penalty from Tian Schoeman put the hosts back in front before Jan Serfontein added a late score with a breakaway try - the conversion denying the visitors a losing bonus point.

In Hamilton, the Chiefs fired an early warning to the rest of the league with a devastating five-try 40-16 victory over the Crusaders.

Last season's finalists the Crusaders were unable to cope with the physical nature of the Chiefs attack, Sonny Bill Williams proving the tormentor-in-chief by scoring a try and creating another two.

Augustine Pulu, Charlie Ngatai, Tom Marshall and James Lowe were also on the scoresheet in the rout.

The Stormers overturned a half-time deficit to beat the Lions 22-19 in Johannesburg - 15 points from the boot of Demetri Catrakilis helping the visitors maintain their 100 per cent start to the season.

Rounding off the action, the Brumbies had to dig deep to grind out a 20-15 victory at the Rebels.

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