The Sharks moved to third on the Currie Cup log with a 26-15 win against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
This was an important match for both sides and it turned just before half-time when, with the Bulls leading 12-6, Burger Odendaal's pass was intercepted by Lwazi Mvovo, who scored a 50m try that Lionel Cronjé converted from the touchline. The Bulls centre had made the mistake of looking directly at the defender in front of him, and not at the teammate he wanted to pass to, and it cost his side seven points at a crucial time.
It also gave the Sharks a big confidence boost, with Mvovo breaking away again early in the second half. S'bura Sithole was unable to chase down Cronjé's subsequent grubber into the corner, but he did collect Cronjé's crosskick into the corner two minutes later, with the flyhalf adding the touchline conversion and then a penalty to make it 23-12.
Jacques-Louis Potgieter kicked his fifth penalty but Cronjé's third ensured the Sharks left Loftus with the four log points.
The Bulls will be disappointed with the result after a good first 39 minutes.
Two Potgieter penalties gave them a 6-0 lead, but the visitors responded with two long-range efforts from SP Marais.
Potgieter's third strike, from a scrum penalty, put the Bulls back in front, and the hosts dominated the set piece again minutes later, gaining 10m before being awarded another penalty.
By now the hosts were dominating possession, and a sustained attack saw the Sharks go offsides and concede three more points.
The Sharks would have been worried when Cronjé missed his first two penalty attempts, but then came Mvovo's intercept try that changed the course of the match.
Blue Bulls – Penalties: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (5).
Sharks – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, S'bura Sithole. Conversions: Lionel Cronjé (2). Penalties: SP Marais (2), Cronjé (2).
Blue Bulls – 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jono Ross (c), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.
Sharks – 15 SP Marais, 14 S’bura Sithole, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 JC Astle, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Subs: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Johan Meyer, 19 Khaya Majola, 20 Hanco Venter, 21 Tim Swiel, 22 Tonderai Chavhanga.
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images