Bulls on the charge as Pollard steps up to plate
A 31-19 win over the Crusaders in Pretoria saw the Bulls throw their hat in the ring as round seven of the 2015 Super Rugby season did little to narrow down the contenders.
Handre Pollard, one of the main challengers for the Springboks No.10 jersey at this year's World Cup, kicked two conversions and four penalties from nine shots at goal to take his tally for the season to 108 - the first player this year to reach the 100-point milestone.
With regular flyhalf Morne Steyn now playing in France, Pollard and Sharks playmaker Patrick Lambie, rested from the team's 15-9 win over the Western Force, loom as the main candidates for the starting spot in the World Cup team.
After dropping their first two games of the season, the win over the Crusaders, the fourth in succession for the Bulls, lifted them to seventh overall on the standings. The Hurricanes, unbeaten after six games, still lead the way on 27 points and tackle the Stormers at home on Friday night.
The Chiefs (5-2) sit second on 24 points, with the Brumbies (4-2) and Highlanders (4-2) next on 20.
The Sharks (19), Waratahs (18) and Bulls (18) are all well in the title race, while the Stormers (16) and Crusaders (14) certainly could not be ruled out of making a run at the finals.
Wins in Australia against the Rebels and Reds have lifted the Lions (13) to 10th on the standings, but their acid test will come in the next two weeks with home games against the Bulls and Sharks.
HURRICANES 36 (N Milner-Skudder 2, T Perenara, C Jane, C Gibbins tries; J Woodward 4 con, pen) REBELS 12 (M Harris 4 pen); in Wellington on Friday night
LIONS 18 (H. Vorster, W Tecklenburg tries; E Jantjies con, 2 pen) REDS 17 (penalty try; S Kerevi try; Q Cooper 2 con, pen); In Brisbane on Friday night
CHIEFS 37 (M Leitch, L Messam, S Cane, A Horrell tries; A Cruden 4 con, 3 pen) CHEETAHS 27 (B Prinsloo, H Brussow, H Brussow tries; J. Pietersen 2 con, 2 pen; W du Plessis con); in Hamilton on Saturday afternoon
HIGHLANDERS 39 (W Naholo 2, A Smith, P Osborne, D Pryor tries; L Sopoaga 4 con, pen, M Banks pen) STORMERS 21 (J de Jongh 2, M Rhodes tries; K Coleman 2 con, D Catrikilis con); in Dunedin on Saturday night
WARATAHS 23 (N Phipps, P Betham tries; B Foley 2 con, 3 pen) BLUES 11 (F Saili try; D Bowden 2 pen); in Sydney on Saturday night
SHARKS 15 (S Marais, L Mvovo tries; F Zeilinga con, pen) FORCE 9 (S Ebersohn 2 pen, L Burton pen); in Durban on Saturday night
BULLS 31 (F Hougaard, B Odendaal, G Hattingh tries; H Pollard 2 con, 4 pen); CRUSADERS 19 (N Nadolo try; D Carter con, 4 pen); in Pretoria on Saturday night