The Sharks punished a 14-man Vodacom Bulls side with a 48-40 win in Pretoria on Saturday to qualify for the Currie Cup semi-finals at Western Province’s expense. DYLAN JACK reports.
Sean Everitt’s side came into the match knowing that they needed just a couple of points to go through to the playoffs after Province suffered an intense loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein earlier in the day.
They did more than they needed to secure a full house of points to comfortably go through to the semi-finals, where they will travel to the table-topping Cheetahs.
For the Bulls, it was a disappointing end to their season, especially as they promised so much before Johnny Kotze was correctly shown red for a head-high shoulder charge. Up until that point, the hosts look like they may have been able to pull off a surprise as tries from Kotze, Lizo Gqoboka and Manie Libbok had given them the lead.
The Sharks stayed in the match thanks to tries from Thomas du Toit and Jacques Vermeulen to go with two penalties from Sanele Nohamba.
However, the game changed when Kotze put in a shoulder charge on Kobus van Wyk, making contact in the neck area and leaving referee Rasta Rasivhenge with no choice but to issue a red card.
The Sharks were quick to punish the infringement as they poached a lineout near the Bulls’ line before Boeta Chamberlain put Andre Esterhuizen in for a try with a brilliant offload, giving the visitors a 27-21 lead at the break.
A quick double strike from the Sharks made it seem like it would be a long second half for the Bulls. First Jeremy Ward gathered a grubber through from JP Pietersen, who had repleced the injured Lwazi Mvovo in the first half. It got even worse for the Bulls as Kobus van Wyk raced through for the Sharks’ fifth try after good work from Aphelele Fassi and Nohamba.
The Bulls did manage a response through a well-worked try from Cornal Hendricks, before Ruan Steenkamp went over to make it an eight-point game.
However, a moment of brilliance from Chamberlain sealed the game as the flyhalf chipped and regathered before offloading to Rhyno Smith to sprint clear and dot down. The Bulls did have the last say when Tim Agaba burst over after the hooter.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Johnny Kotze, Lizo Gqoboka, Manie Libbok, Cornal Hendricks, Ruan Steenkamp, Tim Agaba. Conversion: Libbok (5).
Sharks – Tries: Thomas du Toit, Jacques Vermeulen, Andre Esterhizen, Jeremy Ward, Kobus van Wyk, Rhyno Smith. Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (5), Smith. Penalties: Nohamba (3).
Blue Bulls – 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Dylan Sage, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl (c), 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Wian Vosloo, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Jean Droste , 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Vaughen Isaacs, 23 Stedman Gans.
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward (c-c), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Tera Mtembu (c-c), 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Dylan Richardson, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Rhyno Smith, 23 JP Pietersen.
Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images