Replacement back row forward Arno Botha, a re-signing last year from Munster, scored two tries to lift the Bulls to a 26-19 extra-time victory over the visiting Sharks, securing a first South African Currie Cup title since 2009 in the final at Loftus Versfeld.
Botha’s second try from close-range came two minutes from the end of the second half of extra-time in a match that stretched almost three hours, having been interrupted in the first half due to lightning strikes close to the ground.
Experienced fly-half Morne Steyn also kicked three penalties for the home side who added another from his replacement Chris Smith, while the Sharks’ points came via a try for winger Sbu Nkosi, as well as four penalties and a conversion from fly-half Curwin Bosch.
Both teams missed kickable penalties in the game, with Bosch particularly wasteful as he sent five wide of the posts having had opportunities to wrap up the title in normal time. The game was halted in the first half by the lightning, but there was little in the way of electricity in the play in a stop-start, error-strewn contest.
There was one moment of magic as Sharks full-back Aphelele Fassi broke the Bulls line and fed Springboks wing Nkosi to cross over in the corner and give his side a 13-9 lead at the break.
? Champions! The Vodacom Bulls lift the #CarlingCurrieCup after 100 min of nail-biting action against a gutsy Cell C Sharks in Pretoria
? Click here to see how it all unfolded: https://t.co/hCuBFZLbbU@blacklabelsa @BlueBullsRugby @TheSharksZA #TheChampionWithin #ReachForGold pic.twitter.com/qaUXGj1olo
— Carling Currie Cup (@TheCurrieCup) January 30, 2021
The game opened up in the second period with the Bulls largely dominating possession and finally getting reward as Botha burrowed over the try-line from close range to close the gap to three points. A penalty by Smith drew the home side level with a minute to play.
However, he spurned the chance to claim the win when he missed a kickable penalty after the hooter at the end of the game, only for Botha to spare his blushes. Both clubs will next compete in the Rainbow Cup, with the South African franchises hoping their participation in the Guinness PRO16 will pave the way towards Champions Cup involvement.
Great to see Arno Botha, re-signed last year from Munster, come off bench and score winning try in extra-time. He was a Bulls fans as a kid, even camping overnight outside Loftus to buy tickets for Super Rugby knockout games 12 years ago! ?#BULvSHA #BullsFamily24 #CurrieCup
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 30, 2021
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