The Bulls gave Jake White the perfect start as a coach and Director of Rugby in Pretoria. Producing a mix of forward power and backline flair, the Bulls beat the Sharks 40-28 in an entertaining affair at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
It was a 21-point blitz in the opening 15 minutes that gave the Bulls a start and saw the Sharks chasing the game.
In the end, despite a much-improved second half, the Sharks failed to close that gap. It started with a sickening high tackle from Jeremy Ward on Travis Ismaiel in the fifth minute – which earned the Sharks midfielder 10 minutes in the sin bin.
The Bulls set up a line-out drive and quickly gained momentum – with Schalk Erasmus getting an armchair ride over the line. Morné Steyn converted.
Minutes later Steyn hoisted a high kick, with Stedman Gans collecting, stepping and scoring a brilliant solo try. Steyn against added the conversion and it was 14-0 after 10 minutes.
That became 21-0 when a brilliant turnover on the Bulls’ line and some quick hands got the ball to Sevens star Kurt-Lee Arendse, who dashed downfield, before stepping inside the defence to score. Steyn added the extras – 21-0.
On the 25th they stretched their lead to 28-8. After taking it through some phases, another of the Bulls’ new recruits, Gio Aplon, stepped through a gap and put Arendse away for his second of the match. Steyn added the conversion.
That became 35-0 on the half-hour, when a simple backline move from a scrum created an overlap for Ismaiel to go over in the right corner. Steyn kept his 100 percent kicking record intact.
The Sharks finally got on the scoreboard after the half-time hooter had sounded – Marco van Staden yellow-cared for repeated infringements at the breakdown. A quick-tap penalty saw Grant Williams catching the Bulls defence napping. Bosch added the conversion top make it 35-7 at the break.
The Bulls again dominated the early exchanges after the break, winning a number of penalties inside the Sharks 22 – resulting in a warning to the visitors for repeated infringements.
However, a simple handling error at the back of a scrum gifted the Sharks some much-needed reprieve.
The Sharks worked their way upfield until Marius Louw won an unlikely turnover, by ripping the ball from the Bulls player’s hands, and strolled over for the visitors’ second try. Bosch converted – 14-35 on the hour mark.
With just on 15 minutes remaining the Bulls stretched their lead – another simple backline move, starting from a line-out turned into a midfield ruck, and David Kriel strolling over in the left corner. Chris Smith added the conversion – 42-14.
Dan Jooste sneaked over from close range, but the call went to the TMO – who awarded the try to the Sharks. Jordan Chait added the conversion – 21-42.
Juandre Kruger was then yellow-carded for a cynical foul in the tackle and from a quick tap Jaden Hendrikse went over and the Chait conversion made it 28-42 with just under 10 minutes remaining.
Kriel then strolled over for his second try in Bulls colours, as the hosts launched a blistering attack from a turnover. Smith added the conversion – 49-28.
That’s how it finished.
For the Bulls
Tries: Erasmus, Gans, Arendse 2, Ismaiel, Kriel 2
Cons: Steyn 5, Smith 2
For the Sharks
Tries: Williams, Louw, Jooste, Hendrikse
Cons: Bosch 2, Chait 2
Yellow cards: Jeremy Ward (Sharks, 5 – foul play, high tackle), Marco van Staden (Bulls, 40 – repeated infringements at the breakdown), Juandre Kruger (Bulls, 71 – cynical foul, holding the ball in the tackle)
Bulls squad: Clinton Swart, Travis Ismaiel, Stedman Gans, Jacques van Rooyen, Kurt-lee Arendse, Corniel Els, Morné Steyn, Ivan van Zyl, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Jade Stighling, Stravino Jacobs, Duane Vermeulen (captain), Arno Botha, Chris Smith, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortjé, David Kriel, Muller Uys, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, Schalk Erasmus, Jan-Hendrick Wessels, Mornay Smith, Sintu Manjezi, Juandré Kruger, Nizaam Carr, Tim Agaba, Embrose Papier, Cornal Hendricks, Gio Aplon.
Sharks squad:Ox Nche, Mzamo Majola, Dylan Richardson, Dan Jooste, Thomas du Toit, John-Hubert Meyer, Ruben van Heerden, JJ van der Mescht, Hyron Andrews, Emile van Heerden, Evan Roos, Adam Mountfort, Celimpilo Gumede, Tera Mtembu, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Phepsi Buthelezi. Grant Williams, Sanele Nohamba, Jaden Hendrikse, Curwin Bosch, Jordan Chait, Muller du Plessis, Caleb Dingaan, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Lukhanyo Am, JP Pietersen, Werner Kok, Manie Libbok, Thaakir Abrahams.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Morné Ferreira
TMO: Willie Vos
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