Ge­lant, Bulls put Sharks to the sword

The Sunday Independent - - Sport - MIKE GREEN­AWAY

Kings Park SHARKS (10) 10

Try: Ester­huizen. Con­ver­sion: R du Preez. Penalty: Du Preez BULLS (21) 40

Tries: Ge­lant (3), Strauss, penalty try, Kötze. Con­ver­sions: Pol­lard (3), Lib­bok

THE Sharks have elated and dis­ap­pointed in equal mea­sure this sea­son, but even their most die-hard fans will find this per­for­mance against the Bulls de­flat­ing in the ex­treme, mostly be­cause no­body saw it com­ing.

It was crit­i­cal for the Sharks to build on their re­cent form in New Zealand in this first of two home der­bies be­fore their bye, but they ran into a Bulls side who played with en­ergy and hunger, not to men­tion skill in abun­dance.

The Sharks were out­played in ev­ery de­part­ment. It is as sim­ple as that, and the Bulls will re­turn to Pre­to­ria primed to storm up the ta­ble of the South African Con­fer­ence.

For the Sharks, it is back to the draw­ing board ahead of Satur­day’s visit by the Storm­ers. Turn­ing mat­ters around in seven days is go­ing to be a heck of a men­tal chal­lenge for the Sharks af­ter this rub­bish. They lost by 30 points at home. That is em­bar­rass­ing.

From a na­tional point of view, Spring­bok coach Rassie Eras­mus would have been pleased with the in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances of some of the Bulls play­ers, no­tably full­back War­wick Ge­lant, who has surely played his way into the Bok No 15 jersey af­ter scor­ing three im­mac­u­late tries.

The Sharks’ best mo­ment of the game was the three points kicked by Robert du Preez in the sec­ond minute to give them the lead. It was down­hill af­ter that.

The Bulls re­sponded spec­tac­u­larly. They took the ball through the phases to the Sharks’ dan­ger zone, where Han­dre Pol­lard pro­duced a mag­i­cal chip over the de­fence for Ge­lant to catch and score. Pol­lard’s con­ver­sion made it 7-3.

The vis­i­tors were just get­ting started and in the eighth minute Ge­lant scored a fine solo try when he nudged a grub­ber through the de­fence into the 22 and gath­ered to scored.

The Bulls’ tac­tic of putting the ball be­hind the Sharks’ last line of de­fence was cer­tainly pay­ing off.

Sur­pris­ingly, as the game crept into the sec­ond quar­ter, the Sharks aban­doned their tour pol­icy of tak­ing points on of­fer and twice kicked to the cor­ner, but with no profit.

They then re­verted to what worked in New Zealand when Du Preez took a shot at goal but missed, to the dis­be­lief of Sharks fans who had seen him suc­cess­fully kick 20 out of his last 20 at­tempts at goal. If ever there was an omen that the Sharks were go­ing to get a hid­ing, it was that end to Du Preez’s golden run.

The Bulls promptly added to that dis­ap­point­ment when they kicked a penalty to the cor­ner and the vastly ex­pe­ri­enced Adri­aan Strauss con­trolled the maul to­wards the line for the try and a 21-3 lead.

The Sharks’ vague hopes of fight­ing their way back into a win­ning po­si­tion were given a boost three min­utes from half-time when An­dre Ester­huizen mus­cled over fol­low­ing a line-out drive.

The whis­tle for the sec­ond half was greeted by an al­most si­mul­ta­ne­ous break-out of heavy rain, and it proved more of a damp­ener for the Sharks than the Bulls, who pro­ceeded to score seven min­utes into the half when a siege on the Sharks’ line re­sulted in a penalty try.

The dou­ble whammy was that tight­head prop Thomas du Toit was carded for a pro­fes­sional foul.

At 28-10 with just over half an hour to play, the Bulls were over the hill and far away.

It re­mained for Ge­lant to com­plete his hat­trick and wing Johnny Kotze to com­plete the hu­mil­i­a­tion.

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