Bulls blitz seals place in Final
RAINBOW CUP MATCH REPORT: The Bulls scored three tries in a 10-minute period in the second half to book their place in the Final with a 34-22 win over the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
With their fourth South African title in the last 12 months, the Bulls will head to Treviso to meet Benetton in Pro Rugby’s first cross-hemisphere Final next Saturday.
The Bulls held a narrow 13-10 lead at the half-time break.
However, tries by David Kriel, Stravino Jacobs and rookie Janko Swanepoel – to go with the first-half score by Cornal Hendricks – saw the Bulls race into a 34-15 lead and ended the game as a contest.
Two yellow cards for some overzealous defending by the Bulls reduced the visitors 13 men at one stage and allowed the Sharks to get a consolation try.
However, the Bulls held their nerve and ended with a deserved win.
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Jake White’s men held a four-point advantage over their hosts heading into the clash and finished the job with a bonus-point victory in their final match of the league stage.
The result leaves the Sharks third behind the Stormers at the end of the competition, after the Cape Town outfit were awarded four points following the cancellation of their match with fourth-placed Lions.
Morne Steyn was wayward with an early penalty attempt, but found the target after 17 minutes to put the Bulls in front and doubled the lead eight minutes later.
Van der Mescht barged over the line for the game’s first try and Curwin Bosch added the conversion as the Sharks moved a point in front.
Cornal Hendricks showed great pace to sprint for the line for the Bulls’ second try and Steyn made it 13-7 before Bosch reduced the arrears by three before the break.
David Kriel crossed for the Bulls nine minutes into the second half, with Steyn supplying the extras, and although Siyamthanda Kolisi touched down in the corner soon after, Stravino Jacobs’ score under the posts felt decisive – as it moved the visitors into a 27-15 lead with the help of two more Steyn points from the tee.
Swanepoel added the bonus point just short of the hour mark and Steyn rounded off the Bulls’ scoring, before Volmink crossed for a consolation try that was converted by Manie Libbok.
Man of the match: Sharks backs like Werner Kok and Aphelele Fassi always looked dangerous on attack. Replacement James Venter made an impact, while Thembelani Bholi and Phepsi Buthelezi were impressive in terms of their workrates and ball-carrying ability. Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee, fellow loose forward Marco van Staden and hooker Johan Grobbelaar were exemplarily in their efforts. Cornal Hendricks scored a vital first-half try and was solid in the midfield – even helping out in the scrums when Van Staden was in the sin bin. Our award goes to another of the Bulls’ veterans – Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn. He dictated the game through his exceptional decision-making, great kicking out of hand and some impressive distribution skills.
For the Sharks
Tries: Van der Mescht, Kolisi, Volmink
Cons: Bosch, Libbok
For the Bulls
Tries: Hendricks, Kriel, Jacobs, Swanepoel
Cons: Steyn 4
Pens: Steyn 2
Yellow cards: Marco van Staden (Bulls, 66 – repeated infringements, no clear release at the tackle), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls, 72 – cynical foul, throwing the ball away)
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Juan van der Mescht, 3 Khuthazani Mchunu, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 James Venter, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 7 Ruan Nortje, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements – from: 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Muller Uys, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Gio Aplon, 24 Robert Hunt, 25 Jan Uys, 26 Dawid Kellerman, 27 Richard Kriel.
Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper, Griffin Colby (both South Africa)
TMO: Stuart Berry (South Africa)