The Sharks ended a nine-match winless streak against the Vodacom Bulls as they clinched a 23-15 victory at Kings Park on Friday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
This wasn’t an aesthetically pleasing contest by any stretch of the imagination, but rest assured, the Sharks will not be bothered.
Just one point separated the sides heading into the dying stages, but then came a moment of magic as replacement Sanele Nohamba darted away to score a memorable match-winning try.
In the end, it was the ideal result for the Sharks as they banked four log points before now heading off on a challenging overseas tour. Unfortunately for the Bulls, despite their best efforts in extremely humid conditions, they come away from Durban without even a losing bonus point.
Initially for South African fans looking forward to the first local Vodacom Super Rugby derby of the year, they would have wanted to look away in an opening half that degenerated into an unattractive kicking fest.
In fact, there was something rather ironically appropriate about the fact that the start of the second stanza was delayed due to a Kings Park stadium light failure that suggested there was nothing further to see in Durban.
Of course, the humidity in Durban at this time of year is often a decisive factor, and the combined total of 17 handling errors in the first period was certainly indicative of that.
Yet it did provide an opportunity for veteran flyhalf Morne Steyn to come into his own, and his superb kicking out of hand was one of the factors that largely separated the two sides over the first part of proceedings.
In the context of a scrappy clash, though, a key moment came when a cross kick from Curwin Bosch was allowed to bounce, with S’bu Nkosi pouncing on possession and dotting down to score the solitary try of the match.
From there, momentum ebbed and flowed, with Steyn keeping the Bulls in the game right until the death, but then came the decisive act as Nohamba went over to score and send his team into celebration.
Sharks – Tries: S’bu Nkosi, Sanele Nohamba. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (3).
Bulls – Penalties: Morne Steyn (4). Drop goal: Steyn.
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Sikumbuzo Notshe, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Jeandre Rudolph, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Ryno Pieterse, 21 Wian Vosloo, 22 Embrose Papier, 23 Manie Libbok.
Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix