Sharks beat Bulls in URC clash to exorcise their Currie Cup demons
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Durban — The Sharks overcame their nemesis side 30-16 at a steamy Kings Park in emphatic style to bank vital United Rugby Championship points and exorcise some of the demons of their Currie Cup final defeats to the Bulls.
It was mostly an untidy affair that was s much down to the teams not having played for some time as it was to the muggy Durban summer conditions, which seem to always relegate games to wars of attrition.
The key to beating the Bulls is as old as the game itself — subdue their forwards or perish — and the Sharks forwards were more than up for the challenge and enjoyed a number of powerful driving mauls, with debutant Bongi Mbonambi in the thick of it, but it was their scrum that was mightily impressive.
It is a long time since the Bulls scrum has been so embarrassed — almost every scrum of the game resulted in a penalty to the Sharks
Unfortunately for the Sharks there were some a few early errors from flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain, including an easy shot at goal, and then there was the unlikely sight of Sbu Nkosi losing the ball as he dived over the line for a criminal waste of points.
The home team had been on top for almost the entire opening quarter but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
Chamberlain did get it right in the 21st minute, though, when he slotted a penalty from in front of the posts.
But the Sharks then committed the cardinal sin of giving away a penalty form the restart and after Morne Steyn kicked to the corner, a few phases later David Kriel stretched over and grounded the ball on the line, and suddenly the Bulls were 7-3 up after having done little of the attacking.
And on the half hour mark they extended their lead when Jacques du Plessis won a penalty at the breakdown, in front of the Sharks’ posts.
Chamberlain immediately pulled three points back when the Bulls went offside at a ruck on their 22 only to be penalised again in easy kicking range for Steyn, who kicked his team into a handy 13-6, but the Sharks had the last say in the half when Chamberlain nailed a difficult kick.
It was 13-9 to the Bulls at the break and they would have been more than pleased considering they hadn’t had the majority of possession.
In the first scrum of the second half, the Sharks again won a penalty, but Chamberlain missed a reasonably easy kick at goal. But yet another scrum penalty came the way of the Sharks and this time the flyhalf got it right, to narrow the deficit to a single point.
At last the game burst into life when Lukhanyo Am perfectly read a long pass by Steyn, intercepted, and ran 60m to the posts.
Steyn and Chamberlain exchanged penalties as the game hit the third quarter (22-16) and then in a turning point in the game, another scrum penalty against the Bulls front row saw Lizo Gqoboka sin-binned because of the multiple infringements.
The Bulls’ discipline deteriorated further when Arno Botha attacked Phespi Buthelezi off the ball and while he was lucky to stay on the field, it did cost his team three points, and the Sharks had a nine-point buffer with 12 minutes to go.
And the game was pretty much decided when replacement hooker Kerron van Vuuren scored a trademark try off a driving maul. 30-16
Sharks — 30: Tries: Lukhanyo Am, Kerron van Vuutren. Penalties: Boeta Chamberlain (6). Conversions: Chamberlain.
Bulls — 16: Tries: David Kriel. Conversions: Morne Steyn. Penalties: Steyn (3).