The Bulls’ extra-time 26-19 victory over the Sharks secured the Currie Cup for the first time since 2009, leaving the Durban-based side without any silverware after a season that held so much promise after a hot start to the original Super Rugby season last year.
The Sharks conceded two tries to Arno Botha, who pushed the Bulls back into contention after falling behind by 19-9. Botha’s first try gave the Bulls a lifeline with roughly 15 minutes to go.
Both sides had multiple chances to win the game, most notably Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch, who missed five shots at goals and three drop goal attempts on the day.
The Sharks had the chance to strike back after Botha’s first try in the dying stages of regular time, but they turned down a shot at goal to kick to the corner for the lineout maul. The ensuing line out drive failed, letting the Bulls off the hook.
Bosch’s third drop goal attempt sailed wide shortly after that moment, keeping the lead to just three points with five minutes remaining.
When the Sharks conceded a scrum penalty near-on fulltime, the gap was closed as Bulls replacement Chris Smith kicked the goal. A late opportunity to win the game in regular time went begging by Smith, who missed an 82nd-minute penalty goal with the scores tied.
Both flyhalves missed penalty goals early in extra time, Bosch’s fifth miss off the tee coming from long range inside his own half.
Late in the second half of extra-time, Botha powered over to add misery to the Sharks’ day.
Bosch’s 50 per cent day with the boot became the source of blame for the Sharks’ loss, with many fans claiming that’s why he hasn’t been brought into the Springboks side since 2017.
— G Des (@gordes05) January 30, 2021
This match is evidence that Bosch is not Springbok material. It's a big game and missed 7/8 kicks and we don't want a guy that kicks this amount of points miss against the British&Irish Lions nor All Blacks. #BULvSHA #CurrieCup
— Stefan De Villiers (@StefanDivvy7) January 30, 2021
Feel bad for curwin Bosch man too much pressure got put on the kid #BULvSHA
— yah neh (@alvandreschoem1) January 30, 2021
— Pierre Mc Leod (@pierre_mackie) January 30, 2021
— Mac (@2Fresh_mac) January 30, 2021
Bulls win it!!!! I kinda feel sorry for Curwin though. Going to be hard to forget this one. On a side note i hope Thomas Du Toit's injury isn't serious at all. #BULvSHA
— Such Is Life…. (@EnslinMavunga) January 30, 2021
— Joey (@Joey213Joey) January 30, 2021
Others felt that the Sharks had diverged away from the style of play that had made them a force in the beginning of the 2020 Super Rugby season, where they were 6-1 after seven games.
#BULvSHA what a chappy game. SHA have the best backline in the comp and continue to kick it every time. Bosch playing to Everitt's plan. Not his fault. Tepid way to lose a final. Need to play like early 2020 again.
— Nick Alterskye (@Rally_boy2009) January 30, 2021
— SEASON TRAVELER ?? ?? ?? (@SeasonTravelerZ) January 30, 2021
Coach Sean Everitt added his support for his flyhalf, explaining after the match that the misses ‘doesn’t make him a bad player’.
“Curwin is a great rugby player. When you miss kicks at goal, that doesn’t make you a bad rugby player. Curwin has been outstanding for us and I thought generally today his game management was really good. We back him 100 per cent.”
Everitt highlighted that the Bulls kickers also failed to the hit the target, with Morne Steyn and Chris Smith missing more than once while adding that Bosch has done it ‘time and time again’ to save the Sharks this year.
The Bulls win gave the side a Currie Cup/Super Rugby Unlocked double, after what was a tumultuous start to their Super Rugby campaign before COVID, winning just one game from six starts.
The arrival of Jake White with some of his former stars have since turned the club’s fortunes around, now laying claim to South Africa’s premier club side once again.
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