Dream-like KZN win over Blue Bulls
This time they lost by 20 points but last year the Golden Lions beat them 41-14, a difference of 27 points. But this year's 53 points is beyond a dream. And it could have been worse.
The Sharks were leading 38-0 when they had a player sent off. There is no doubt that their 14-man opponents helped the Blue Bulls to a recovery of sorts. They got to 38-28 before the Sharks went scoring again.
It was not just the scoring against them that had an air of unreality. They looked so hesitant and un-cohesive; their handling was so poor; they lost three of their first line-outs, they were shoved in the scrums, even by a seven-man pack against them.
The Sharks, on the other hand, were skilled, clever and confident.
The KwaZulu-Natal side scored their first try after just one minute. The Sharks knocked on into touch and the Blue Bulls chose the line-out. They lost their line-out and clever scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba played wide to wing Cham Zondeki who ran down the touchline, beat one and scored in the left corner. 5-0.
The Sharks nearly scored again when Rynhardt Jonker broke and gave to Conan le Fleur. They were close but lost the ball.
The second try was not long in coming. At a scrum on their right, the Sharks were awarded a free kick. The ball went out to Zondeki who ran and then with his right foot kicked infield to his right where Nohamba latched onto the ball and scored. 12-0 after 9 minutes.
The next try came from close quarters. The Sharks mauled from a line-out, bashed at the line. Flyhalf Dylan Pretorius dummied and forced his way over for a try. 19-0 after 15 minutes.
Next Pretorius charged down a Blue Bull clearance which resulted in a five-mere scrum to the Sharks. They bashed and captain Phendulani Buthelezi dabbed the ball to the line for a try. 26-0 after 26 minutes.
This looked as if it were becoming a rout.
The Sharks came back on the attack. From a scrum on their left, they bashed their way left and powerful Dylan Richardson bashed between defenders to score. 31-0 after 32 minutes.
From the kick-off, the Blue Bulls knocked on. Jonker of the clever feet and quick mind got the ball, flicked a pass behind his back and fullback Siyanda Cele went racing 41 metres down the field for a try. 38-0 after 33 minutes.
It was slaughter.
But then, on half-time, the Sharks lost a man, for a shoulder to the head of a grounded opponent during post-tackle activity. That meant a red card – and the re-entry of the Blue Bulls to the match.
Three successive penalties and the Pretoria side went wide right where fullback Diego Appollis was unmarked and scored. Flyhalf Ulrich Maritz converted. That made the half-time score 38-7.
Instead of oranges or water, it would seem that the Blue Bulls were given a dose of confidence during the break. They returned to the fray a faster and far more confident.
From a line-out, they drove a maul 25 metres downfield and Zan Briel broke and raced for the line and a try near the posts. They came back and from a scrum, big Ulrich Maritz broke through for a try. 38-21. They had scored three tries in 10 minutes' playing time. Victory was certainly possible, for the mountain was shrinking.
Back came the Bulls with inter-passing but lock Ruben Kotze lost the ball as he stretched for another try. But they had a penalty and tapped going left where Appollis squeezed over for his second try, awarded after a TMO examination. Maritz converted from touch with a mighty kick. 38-28 and the Sharks looked bewildered, but suddenly they seemed to get themselves together.
Burly Keynan Knox went on a charge. Massive JJ van der Mescht carried it on. A penalty for a high tackle made a five-mere line-out. The Sharks peeled around the front and then went left. Van der Mescht came charging at an angle but the ball went past the decoy to Jonker who went over for the clever try untouched. 45-28 with 15 minutes to play. Nohamba goaled a penalty and it was 48-28 with 12 minutes to play
This last period of play was a repeat of the spirit of the first half – the Sharks with heads up and the Blue Bulls with heads down.
Jonker intercepted a Blue Bull pass. The ball was loose and Jonker footed on. Nohamba got it and ran off with the ball, popping it to Le Fleur who scored. 53-28 with just four minutes to play.
The Blue Bulls got possession and Labuschagne, Marnus Potgieter and Orateng Koikanyang combined to produce the try that Labuschagne scored. 53-33.
86 points in 70 minutes.
It had an air of unreality.
Tries: Dylan Richardson, Phendulani Buthelezi, Sanele Nohamba, Dylan Pretorius, Cham Zondeki, Rynhardt Jonker, Conan Le Fleur, Siyanda Cele
Cons: Sanele Nohamba 5
Pen: Sanele Nohamba
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Jaco Labuschagne, Ulrich Maritz, Zach Briel, Diego Appollis 2
Cons: Ulrich Maritz 4
Blue Bulls: 15 Diego Appollis (Garsfontein), 14 Mpho Kubeka (Pretoria Boys' High), 13 Marnus Potgieter (Affies), 12 Zan Briel (Affies), 11 Turique Ferris (De Wilgers), 10 Ulrich Maritz (Waterkloof), 9 Giovanne Snyman (Waterkloof), 8 Phillip Potgieter (Affies), 7 Jaco Labuschagne (Affies), 6 Kahanda Jada (Pretoria Boys' High), 5 Ruben Kotze (Waterkloof), 4 Orateng Koikanyang (St Alban's), 3 Gerrit Visser (Waterkloof), 2 Ruben Veldsman (Waterkloof), 1 Warren Nkobane (Cornwall Hill), 16 Johan van Zyl (Affies), 17 Robert Moekoena (Curro Hazeldean), 18 James Combrink (Affies), 19 Kgala Mothomogolo (Pretoria Boys' High), 20 Gustav de Jager (Waterkloof) , 21 Keagen Johannes (Garsfontein), 22 Regardt Roets (Affies), 23 Ndu Nkosi (Southdowns).
Kwa-Zulu Natal/Sharks: 15 Siyanda Cele (Glenwood), 14 Njabulo Mjara (Maritzburg), 13 Conan le Fleur (Glenwood), 12 Rynhardt Jonker (Glenwood), 11 Cham Zondeki (DHS), 10 Dylan Pretorius (Glenwood), 9 Sanele Nohamba (DHS), 8 Phendulani Buthelezi (DHS), 7 Dylan Richardson (Kearsney), 6 Dylan Kruger (Glenwood), 5 JJ van der Mescht (Glenwood), 4 Edward Laubscher (Glenwood), 3 Keynan Knox (Michaelhouse), 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha (Maritzburg), 1 Jordan Clarke (Glenwood), 16 Daniel Truter (Glenwood), 17 Thabiso Mdletshe (Glenwood), 18 Brendon Schwulst (Glenwood), 19 Celimpilo Gumede (DHS), 20 Ntuthuko Mchunu (Maritzburg), 21 Jaden Hendrikse (Glenwood), 22 Morné van Rensburg (Glenwood), 23 Lwandile Menze (DHS).
Referee: Pieter Maritz
Assistant referees: Eduan Nel, Oregopotse Rametsi
Assessor: Thuso Mngqibisa