Spencer offers inspiration as Auckland rein in Bulls

Defending champions the Auckland Blues got their Super 12 campaign back on track with a 56-19 win over the Bulls from Northern Transvaal and their heavyweight pack of South African internationals. Fly-half Carlos Spencer orchestrated the win as the Blues moved to seventh place in the table with their third win of the season.

Auckland scored nine tries to three in a comprehensive win. Centre Sam Tuitupou and winger Joe Rokocoko scored two tries each, while Spencer scored one and engineered several more.

Auckland took 12 minutes to post their first points and 15 minutes to score their first try, but turned a close match into a rout with seven tries in the middle of the match.

The Bulls scored three tries and were unlucky not to take at least a four-try bonus point from the match. They were denied a first half try by the video referee and they pressured the Auckland line, fruitlessly, for much of the last 10 minutes.

"I think we were in with a chance in the last 10 minutes," said Bulls captain Victor Matfield. " We really wanted a bonus point but their defence was great and we couldn't score."

Wallaby wing Joe Roff scored 20 points as the ACT Brumbies rebounded from a week of internal ructions with a 50-18 win over the Otago Highlanders. The Brumbies moved 11 points clear in the standings at the start of round eight. Roff scored a try and kicked six conversions and a penalty as the Brumbies moved to 30 points from six wins, well ahead of the Canterbury Crusaders.

The Brumbies were coming off three days of high drama. David Nucifora was informed in midweek that his tenure as coach would end after this season and Australian skipper George Gregan was later relegated to the bench.

Gregan, who missed two training sessions at the start of the week, joined the game in the second half. The Highlanders had opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Nick Evans crossed for a try and Tony Brown converted.

But Mark Chisholm responded with a try six minutes later and the Brumbies took the lead when Roff landed a penalty in the 15th minute. Skipper Stirling Mortlock crossed and then hooker Jeremy Paul scored two tries in five minutes as the Brumbies secured a bonus point before the break.

Back rower Scott Fava and fly-half Steve Larkham added tries as the Brumbies took a 30-point lead on the hour, before former All Blacks skipper Anton Oliver crossed for the Highlanders. Roff barged over from a standing start at close range in the 70th minute and converted as the Brumbies finished with seven tries against two.

The struggling Queensland Reds host the Stormers at Ballymore today, while the two other South African sides are at home. The Natal Sharks host the Crusaders in Durban while the winless Cats are at home to the Waikato Chiefs.

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