PRETORIA – The Bulls displayed superior class and composure to claim an important 39-33 Super Rugby victory over the Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday.
After last weekend’s loss to the Stormers, the Bulls responded in the most emphatic fashion as they proved to be too good for the Sharks.
Although the score-line shows just six points separated the sides in the end, the fact of the matter is that the Bulls held the lead for some 78 minutes of this contest.
It’s a result that sees the Bulls move level on log points with both the Sharks and Jaguares in the ever-competitive South African conference, but this game may well have hinged on a decisive moment early on.
The Sharks had looked to have scored a superb try to Curwin Bosch in the 10th minute, but it was ruled out after a trip from the fullback on opposite number Warrick Gelant was correctly spotted in the build-up.
To make matters worse, Bosch was sent to the sin-bin, and almost immediately after he was sent from the field, Gelant went over to score in the corner after a beautiful grubber through from Jesse Kriel.
Moments later, Kriel then darted through the defence to extend the Bulls’ lead in the absence of Bosch, although the Sharks fullback would score almost immediately after returning to play.
It was only a brief lead for the Sharks, though, with the Bulls hitting back through Roelof Smit as an action-packed start to the clash continued unabated.
Although that score saw the Bulls move into a handy 19-7 lead, the hosts then saw lock RG Snyman sent to the sin bin for a shoulder charge, and in his absence the Sharks struck through Jacques Vermeulen.
Before a frenetic first half came to an end, Handré Pollard and Bosch each traded a penalty as the Bulls held on to a tenuous 22-17 lead at the break.
As it was, that lead disappeared during the opening 10 minutes of the second half as Rob du Preez slotted two penalties to send the Sharks into the lead for the first time.
However, that lead didn’t last long as Johnny Kotze went over for a timely try to force the Sharks to once again chase the game, while a try to Lood de Jager in the 65th minute opened up a decisive 36-23 advantage.
The game was as good as over when Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am was shown a yellow card soon after, with Pollard extending the Bulls’ lead from the resultant penalty.
Although a late try to Jean-Luc du Preez and penalty to his older brother Rob enabled the Sharks to claim a losing bonus point, it was the Bulls who claimed the win.
Bulls 39 – Tries: Warrick Gelant, Jesse Kriel, Roelof Smit, Johnny Kotze, Lood de Jager. Conversions: Handré Pollard (4). Penalties: Pollard (2).
Sharks 33 – Tries: Curwin Bosch, Jacques Vermeulen, Jean-Luc du Preez. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3). Penalties: Bosch, Du Preez (3).
African News Agency (ANA)