Curwin Bosch scored 17 points as the Sharks beat the Blue Bulls 37-27 in Durban on Saturday to secure home advantage in the Currie Cup final. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Sharks were in control of this match from start to finish. There were moments when their defence lapsed, when their attack misfired, and when their forwards conceded breakdown penalties. Overall, they showed the necessary composure to outlast the Bulls and advance to the tournament decider.
The Bulls’ determination to play the game at pace backfired on several occasions. Ivan van Zyl threw a bad pass to JT Jackson, and the centre proceeded to drop the ball on his own tryline. Sharks scrumhalf Louis Schreuder pounced to score the hosts’ third try and secure a 21-13 lead after 30 minutes.
The Bulls continued to lose the collisions, but continued to throw speculative passes and target the Sharks’ wide defence. When Van Zyl did eventually decide to box-kick, Sharks captain Ruan Botha was right on top of him. The big lock charged down the kick, gathered the loose ball, and then scored under the posts. The Sharks went to the break with a commanding 28-13 lead.
The Bulls hit back in the third quarter. Van Zyl ran through Garth April after the visitors had forced a turnover. Burger Odendaal enjoyed similar success when he ran at Bosch from close range.
Bosch’s cool goal-kicking, however, kept the Sharks in front. The young flyhalf nailed a drop goal at a crucial stage of the game to give his side a seven-point lead. That advantage was extended to 10 points when Bosch slotted a further penalty. Bosch finished the game with a flawless six-from-six kicking record.
The Sharks will have the advantage of hosting the Currie Cup final at Kings Park next week. They may need to produce a more consistent performance, though, if they are going to claim their first title since 2013.
Sharks – Tries: Lukhanyo Am, Kobus van Wyk, Louis Schreuder, Ruan Botha. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (4). Penalties: Bosch (2). Drop goal: Bosch.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Pierre Schoeman, Ivan van Zyl, Burger Odendaal. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (3). Penalties: Boshoff (2).
Sharks – 15 Garth April, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Juan Schoeman,18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Tristan Blewett, 23 Odwa Ndungane.
Blue Bulls –15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Burger Odendaal (c), 12 JT Jackson, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Jano Venter, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Duncan Matthews, 23 Jon-Roy Jenkinson.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images