The Sharks scored three tries in the space of seven minutes in the second half to complete a stunning comeback win over the Bulls at Kings Park on Friday.
The fact that this was a high-scoring encounter best illustrates what an interesting contest this blue-ribbon fixture of the domestic scene. The Bulls, who’ve set the pace so far in the competition, looked set to continue on their merry ways, but the Sharks delivered a strong second half performance to beat their rivals 35-28 and replace them at the top of the Currie Cup standings.
The Bulls held a healthy 20-10 lead by the 30 minute mark, courtesy of tries by the ever impressive Elrigh Louw and Lizo Gqoboka combined with four successful goal kicks by Johan Goosen. The Sharks’ points up to that point came via try-scorer Le Roux Roets and the boot of Lionel Cronje.
The Bulls continued to make all the play in the last 10 minutes of the opening half, but all their efforts were well stopped by the Sharks, who despite conceding a yellow card would add another penalty to their tally for a 20-13 scoreline at the break.
Momentum completely swung the way of the hosts at the start of the second half, as the Sharks pack started to dominated and play with confidence.
Among the Sharks backs, Grant Williams was front and centre of their revival. After the Bulls conceded a couple of consecutive penalties and a yellow card (to Stedman Gans), the Sharks scrumhalf made the initial linebreak with a darting run after a quick tap to get his team on the front foot and from there Kerron van Vuuren powered over for a converted try to which levelled the scores.
With a man-over advantage, the Sharks bamboozled the Bulls’ defence as Williams and Murray Koster went over in quick succession to turn Stedman’s yellow card offence into a 19-point swing in their favour.
Try as they might, the Bulls just could not get going with their superior stake in possession going to waste as most of of their passing was behind the gainline. The Sharks on the other hand, extended their to 15 points with another Cronje penalty.
There was a late reprieve for the visitors to at least fight for a losing bonus-points when Sharks replacement Thembelani Bholi was sent off soon after coming on. And the men from Pretoria made the most of the opportunity as first Arno Botha burrowed over and then Chris Smith hoofed a last-gasp penalty over the crossbar despite flirting with an almost rundown shot clock to seal the bonus point.