Sharks not at their best but still too good for the bum­bling Bulls

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - DARRYN POL­LOCK

DUR­BAN: The Sharks got their Cur­rie Cup cam­paign off on the right note as they de­feated the Bulls 26-10 in Dur­ban yes­ter­day for a bonus point vic­tory.

The home side will prob­a­bly ad­mit they were not at their best, but that was noth­ing com­pared to how the bungling Bulls per­formed.

The Pre­to­ria out­fit, de­spite hav­ing the bet­ter of the pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory for most of the game, strug­gled to get the ball to stick when their op­por­tu­ni­ties came. It meant that the Sharks, in spite of be­ing far from flaw­less in their ex­e­cu­tion, had plenty of counter-at­tack­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The first half started off as a scrappy af­fair as the two teams looked to find their feet, but a bit un­ex­pect­edly it was the Sharks who got into their groove quicker than the Bulls who had a Cur­rie Cup win un­der their belt from the week be­fore against the Chee­tahs.

The vis­i­tors were plagued by er­rors which not only stunted their chances of pres­sur­ing the home side, but also of­fered up good counter-at­tack­ing chances for the Sharks who took full ad­van­tage.

But, from the open­ing whis­tle, it was a nervy start from Cur­win Bosch who kicked the first ball of the sea­son straight into touch.

The Sharks, though, quickly put this be­hind them and scored first with prop Juan Schoe­man wrestling the ball over the line af­ter some strong pres­sure from the whole team.

The points seemed to make the Sharks over ea­ger and a cou­ple of penal­ties against them saw the Bulls in range for a kick at poles with Manie Lib­bok slot­ting the three-pointer.

The Bulls then man­aged to ride their mo­men­tum and get their first try, this time through dropped Spring­bok and for­mer Mar­itzburg Col­lege pupil, Jesse Kriel. It was again the penal­ties against the Sharks that got them into trou­ble. The Sharks re­mained un­der huge pres­sure, but in­stead of ca­pit­u­lat­ing, they ran in a 100 me­tre try of the sea­son con­tender. A knock-on over the Sharks line saw them counter with Louis Schreuder show­ing a cool head to find an on-rush­ing Cur­win Bosch who dot­ted down at some pace.

Just be­fore the end of the half, the Sharks scored their third try, and an im­por­tant one to push out the lead. It came af­ter some pa­tient, on­go­ing play which led to Kobus van Wyk get­ting some space down the right wing where he man­aged to skin a few cross cov­er­ing de­fend­ers to grab the try.

The Sharks headed into the sheds lead­ing 21-10.

In the sec­ond stanza, there were again chances for both sides, and al­most an­other 100 me­tre counter, this time for the Bulls, but their poor han­dling and un­forced er­rors again scup­pered the op­por­tu­nity.

Then there were flashes of de­fen­sive bril­liance from the Sharks to keep the vis­i­tors out be­fore the Bulls did man­age to get them­selves over the line, but in con­tro­ver­sial fashion. The ball was taken out by a Bulls man, but the as­sis­tant ref thought the player was al­ready out be­fore tak­ing the ball.

How­ever, on closer in­spec­tion, with a re­play on the big screen, it seemed not to be the case. Thus, the TMO was called into ac­tion and the Sharks earned a line-out rather than con­ced­ing a try.

Then, just to rub salt into the wounds of the Bulls, the Sharks turned things around and seem­ingly scored a try of their own as Cur­win Bosch grabbed his sec­ond – or so he thought.

The ref­eree came in late again to look at an ear­lier con­test in the air and deemed it to be a penalty against Kobus van Wyk, dis­al­low­ing the score.

It didn’t mat­ter in the end as ex­cit­ing debu­tant Aphelele Fassi snuck onto the field to grab the ball from a mis­han­dled catch by the Bulls, sprint­ing to the line to make it 26-10, fi­nally adding the first points in the sec­ond half from both sides with 25 min­utes gone.

Those were the only points of the half as the ref­eree dis­al­lowed an­other Sharks touch­down, and the Bulls were kept quiet by some stead­fast de­fend­ing. Schoe­man, Bosch, Van Wyk, Fassi R du Preez 3

Kriel Lib­bok Lib­bok

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