Jacques Vermeulen of the Sharks celebrates his try with team-mates during their Currie Cup clash against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

PRETORIA  The Blue Bulls were no match for a rampant Sharks outfit as the visitors ran out 48-40 winners in their Currie Cup clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night in Pretoria.

The home side’s chances of victory were all but ended when a moment of madness from Johnny Kotze saw the Bulls reduced to 14-men. The neutrals, though, were not robbed of a contest as the numerical advantage did little to dampen the attacking intent displayed by both sides.

Tries from Kotze, Lizo Gqoboka and Manie Libbok had put the hosts in front. The Sharks were quick to hit back and took the lead at the break as Andre Esterhuizen scored to add to the good work done earlier by Thomas du Toit and Jacques Vermeulen.

The Sharks came into their own in the early stages of the second half as Jeremy Ward and Kobus Van Wyk crossed over but Sanele Nohamba, Aphelele Fassi and JP Pietersen played their roles in the enterprising forward play.

Wing Cornal Hendricks brought the Bulls back into the contest which made it a tighter affair, but when Ruan Steenkamp dived over for a five-pointer the Sharks still had one last bit of magic.

Again, the backs were throwing everything at the leaky Bulls defence and Rhyno Smith was on hand for the killer pass, after a fine chip and chase cut the defence apart.

Eighthman Tim Agaba scored a consolation effort for the Bulls, who come to the end of the road in the competition.

The home side did, however, finish above the Pumas and avoid the relegation match. The Sharks head to the Free State Cheetahs for the semi-finals with Griquas travelling to Johannesburg to face the Golden Lions.

Scorers: Blue Bulls 40 (21): Tries: Johnny Kotze, Lizo Gqoboka, Manie Libbok, Cornal Hendricks, Ruan Steenkamp, Tim Agaba. Conversions: Manie Libbok (4), Vaughen Isaacs. Red card: Johnny Kotze

Sharks 48 (27): Tries: Thomas du Toit, Jacques Vermeulen, Andre Esterhuizen, Jeremy Ward, Kobus Van Wyk, Rhyno Smith. Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (5), Rhyno Smith. Penalties: Sanele Nohamba (2).

Africa News Agency (ANA)