Cornal Hendricks of the Bulls is tackled by Rhyno Smith and Jeremy Ward of the Sharks during their Super Rugby match at the Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

PRETORIA – The Bulls produced a first-half masterclass on their way to a 37-14 Super Rugby win over the Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday.

This was a victory effectively sewn up in the opening stanza when the Bulls utterly outplayed the Sharks, establishing a 19-0 lead, and leaving the visitors with too much ground to make up.

While the Sharks did show some fight in the second half, it was to no avail, and ultimately the hosts closed out a win that sees them move to the top of the South African conference.

The Bulls started the clash with real intent, while the Sharks were guilty of some basic errors and ill-discipline, with Handre Pollard making them pay as he slotted two penalties within the opening 10 minutes.

It was an ideal start, and the Bulls built further momentum when they produced a superb set play for Pollard, Cornal Hendricks and Jesse Kriel to combine and send the latter away for the simplest of tries.

Pollard then slotted two more penalties as the Bulls continued to win the scrum battle, while building serious scoreboard pressure at 19-0 at the interval.

Importantly for the Sharks, though, they would the side to score first in the second half when Jeremy Ward ran a good line to dot down next to the posts, but the Bulls responded almost immediately when Rosko Specman was put away in the corner.

Soon after, Pollard slotted another well-executed goal kick, and at 27-7, the Bulls looked to have effectively established an unassailable lead. Having said that, the Sharks ignited some hope when Dan du Preez scored in the 55th minute to cut the deficit to just 13 points heading into the final quarter.

However, the Sharks subsequently botched a couple of lineouts in the red zone, while Specman finished off a late try to ensure the Bulls could celebrate another impressive victory.

Scorers: Bulls 37 (19): Tries: Jesse Kriel, Rosko Specman (2). Conversions: Handré Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (5). Drop goal: Pollard.

Sharks 14 (0): Tries: Jeremy Ward, Dan du Preez. Conversions: Rob du Preez (2).

African News Agency (ANA)