DURBAN – To paraphrase Bulls coach John Mitchell, it will be difficult for the Sharks to mess it up from here in their march to the Currie Cup playoffs and beyond after they produced another commanding performance at Kings Park yesterday – this time in horrendous conditions.
For this time around, the Sharks had to contend with the persistent rain as well as the burly Bulls, but they thoroughly dominated the visiting forwards to provide young flyhalf Curwin Bosch the platform to exhibit some outrageous skills in an 18-5 victory for the hosts.
We surely saw a star Bok flyhalf in the making on Saturday.
“The Sharks are well set,” Mitchell said.
“They deserve to be where they are (well clear of the pack at the top of the Currie Cup log). Long ago I thought they would be the team to beat in this year’s Currie Cup because they have such a good balance in their team.
“They have enough experience sprinkled across the right areas in the team, plus youth and enthusiasm in the backs, and their pack is the most experienced in the competition.
“It is well led by (lock) Ruan Botha, who is leading by example, and he has even grown into a ball-carrier, which demonstrates the confidence he has, as well as the confidence of the Sharks pack, which is playing very good rugby.”
Long before kickoff, it was evident that the game would be ruined as the spectacle of running rugby it had been shaping up to be during the week, with curtains of rain drenching Kings Park from lunchtime yesterday.
Nevertheless, there was some slick work from the Sharks, notably the wonderfully impressive try by S’bu Nkosi who, out on the wing, received a Beauden Barrett-style kick-pass to score untouched.
It was lovely to behold, and we can only hope that we one day see a replica of that try happening with both those players in the green-and-gold.
The Sharks scored a second try in the first half when veteran flank Keegan Daniel slithered over, and the Bulls would have been happy to have been only 12-5 down at halftime, given that their forwards were getting a hammering.
In the second half, Bosch would add a penalty and a magnificent drop goal through the heavy rain to complete the scoring.
In the second half, the rain had intensified and positive rugby was impossible, and the game became more of a wrestling match, where muscular Sharks players such as Dan du Preez, Jacques Vermeulen and Botha were excellent.
Bosch’s out-of-hand kicking was immaculate despite the conditions, and he repeatedly drove the Bulls back into their half with precision kicking.
Mitchell, the former All Black coach, said Bosch was on his way to international stardom, but was not yet the finished product.
“Curwin certainly has plenty of ability, his kicking skills are exceptional and he attacks well off front ball and he has a good step.
“But he has to improve significantly on defence to play Test rugby, although you can hide him, I suppose. But as he matures into his body, that will be helpful for him (on defence),” Mitchell said.
“I just think he is still a bit young and light, and needs to be nurtured further before being put to the slaughter,” Mitchell added with a laugh, probably having a light-hearted dig at the Springboks’ demise in Auckland last week.
The Sharks play the Lions in Durban on Friday night, and then finish against Western Province (also at Kings Park) before the semi-finals.