JOHANNESBURG – A punch up, a dodgy TMO decision and a comedy of errors highlighted a poor local derby between the Sharks and the Bulls at Jonsson Kings Park on Saturday.
The Bulls came out on top 19-16 to claim their eighth consecutive victory over the Sharks.
It was far from a feast for the eyes but at least the Bulls can go into the next week with some of the points-table pressure being relieved.
They are back at the top part of the South African Conference occupying second place behind the Lions one point ahead.
But the victory would only paper over the cracks if Bulls coach Pote Human and his team do not address the mistakes that could easily have led to a defeat.
It was an error-ridden game with the humid conditions in Durban making handling of a slippery ball difficult for both sides.
Human’s charges showed great character to snatch victory thanks to Handre Pollard’s kicking off the tee.
Pollard finished with a 100 percent kicking record including the decisive penalty goal in the 78th minute that ended a 16-all stalemate.
“I think the guys really showed character to come back from last week, after that loss you are worried about the attitude but the guys really came out,” Human said.
“Although it wasn’t a nice game, it was ugly, we will take this win and it will definitely help us going forward.”
The Bulls got the rub of the green in the first half with TMO Christy du Preez convincing referee Mike Fraser that a Dan du Preez try should not be awarded.
Fraser referred the try to Du Preez, who called a ball that bounced near touchline out which was not supported by the TV evidence.
The second half more drama followed with opposite hookers Schalk Brits and Akker van der Merwe involved in a punch- up metres from the Bulls’ line.
It appeared that Van der Merwe drew first blood with a headbutt with the two hookers grappling on the ground.
After another TMO consultation, it was decided both players be red carded with Brits deciding to watch the rest of the match among the fans in the stands. While the debate continued unabated about who threw the first punch the two guilty parties had a beer after the match in a show of sportsmanship.
Today both players will face a Sanzaar foul play review committee which could have some dire consequences for their teams.
An extensive ban for Van der Merwe would leave the Sharks in dire straits with their hooker depth taking serious strain at the moment.
“It is unfortunate that this kind of thing happens on the field, I will look at the video, the little bit I saw was the fists from Akker but something would have triggered it,” Human said.
The Bulls will next face the Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday where they will be looking to make up for their second-round defeat to the Argentina franchise.@ockertde