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Bulls crowned SA Shield champs

MATCH REPORT: A brace of tries by Akker van der Merwe helped the Bulls claim the South African Shield and secure a top-two finish in the United Rugby Championship.

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The Bulls recorded a  26-14  bonus point win over the Sharks in Durban.

The Pretoria side outscored the Challenge Cup champs by four tries to two in a dramatic encounter at Kings Park.

*To recap all the action CLICK HERE!!

The result means the Bulls will host a URC quarterfinal match next week.

The hosts were missing injured Springboks Lukhanyo Am and Eben Etzebeth, among others, and were playing just eight days after lifting the Challenge Cup in London, but were competitive to the end.

Van der Merwe crossed twice for the Bulls, the second of his tries making a top-of-the-table finish possible.

An ambitious long line-out failed to hit its intended target yet still fell kindly for Siya Masuku to collect and flop over the line as the Sharks drew first blood, the player converting his own try.

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The Bulls were playing with greater freedom, however, with Embrose Papier and Willie le Roux pulling the strings and their work helped to set up their opening try for David Kriel.

The finish for the visitors’ next try was less eye-catching as Johan Grobbelaar concluded a maul try, with Johan Goosen adding the extras, but there was plenty to admire in the play leading to the line-out as Le Roux and Kurt-Lee Arendse burst into open space.

The Sharks trailed 7-12 at half-time and they had to scramble furiously to keep out a third Bulls try shortly after the interval with Aphelele Fassi chasing down Canan Moodie.

Flank Vincent Tshituka was sent to the sin-bin for slowing the ball down, inviting more pressure on to the Sharks, and eventually, they cracked with van der Merwe scoring from a pick-and-go, with Goosen again converting.

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The hosts were showing admirable resilience given their URC season was over after the game and in the third quarter they began shifting through the gears with Dylan Richardson going over and Masuku landing the conversion.

The Bulls were hindered by their high number of handling errors but with three minutes remaining they claimed the bonus point, van der Merwe crossing after impressive build-up play from his side, Chris Smith this time kicking the two additional points.

Man of the Match

Elrigh Louw emerged as the star performer in a muscular afternoon from the Bulls pack. The 24-year-old’s work-rate and power were important factors in the bonus-point win that confirms the Bulls among the favourites to win the URC title, in the process advancing his own Springboks claim.

Play of the match

The Bulls were in danger of missing out on the bonus point they needed to decorate their win but their pack stepped up with three minutes left. It was route one stuff as one imposing maul led to a second and over went replacement hooker van der Merwe to snuff out the Sharks’ fightback.

The scorers:

For Sharks:
Tries: Masuku, Richardson
Con: Masuku 2

For Bulls:
Tries: Kriel, Grobbelaar Van der Merwe 2
Cons: Goosen 2, Smith

Yellow card: Vincent Tshituka (Sharks, 44 – foul play)

Teams: 

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Ethan Hooker, 12 Francois Venter (captain), 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 James Venter, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Corne Rahl, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Khwezi Mona, 19 Lappies Labuschagne, 20 Dylan Richardson, 21 Bradley Davids, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Diego Appollis

Bulls: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 David Kriel, 12 Harold Vorster, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Reinhardt Ludwig, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Sebastian de Klerk

Referee: Morne Ferreira (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadzweni (South Africa) and Dylen November (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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