Heinz Schenk
3 minute read
31 Jan 2020
9:02 pm

Nohamba makes immediate impact as Sharks win dreary derby over Bulls

Heinz Schenk

The former Baby Bok settles a typical South African arm wrestle.

Warrick Gelant of the Vodacom Bulls during the Super Rugby match between Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium on January 20, 2020 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

The Sharks’ new era under Sean Everitt got off to a decent start as they won a flawed Super Rugby derby 23-15 against the Bulls at Kings Park on Friday evening.

It was a typical arm wrestle, with both sides seemingly wary to trying to be too ambitious on attack and also struggling for rhythm.

With the game in the balance until the very last minute, former Junior Springbok Sanele Nohamba made an immediate impact on debut as he fed off a nifty set-piece move, with centre Andre Esterhuizen influential as ball-carrier, to score the winning try.

On the whole, the home team probably deserved it more anyway.

Who was the star in this match?

The Sharks’ international-class backline was ever present and even dangerous, but given how they’ve placed a premium on dominating the breakdown, James Venter’s debut was excellent. The former Lion made 12 tackles and immediately made his presence count with a fine turnover in the first half. He seemingly even inspired prop Thomas du Toit to deliver his own brand of poaching.

Key moments and themes

  • Any discerning rugby fan would’ve have expected much from this game, particularly in the first half, and it duly proved to be the case. Both sides lacked structure and conviction on attack as they relied on the respective boots of flyhalves Curwin Bosch and Morne Steyn. The Sharks let a golden opportunity slip when fullback Aphelele Fassi broke the line brilliantly, only to have to cop a solid hit by Steyn because No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe overran his support line. The Bulls, camped in their own half, were even less value in terms of taking initiative.
  • Following the forgettable nature of the first 40, the second started with a bang and, in fact, that short passage of time determined the result. After his teammates worked their way into the strike zone, Bosch launched a delightful and deft cross kick. Bulls wing Rosko Specman was supposed to have it covered, but he instead chose to lazily let it go, allowing his opposite number, S’bu Nkosi, to brilliantly poach for the try. The skill of the Bok winger was writ large.
  • Just over a minute later, Steyn chipped in midfield, finding fullback Warrick Gelant, who ran well. Another cross kick was poorly handled by Esterhuizen, who seemingly gave up on Bulls wing Cornal Hendricks dotting down. But he inexplicably knocked on with the tryline at his mercy.
  • That error seemed to spur the visitors on, who enjoyed more possession and territory as the penalty count against the Sharks mounted. However, they simply couldn’t muster the rhythm on attack to make things count.
  • While the Sharks will be happy with their victory, especially with their Australasian tour already commencing next week, as well as their dominance on the ground, their lineout was a mess and the Bulls generally held sway in the scrums. Nonetheless, their ability to take their opportunities (relatively speaking) proved telling.

Point scorers:

Sharks – Try: S’bu Nkosi, Sanele Nohamba. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (3).

Bulls – Penalties: Morne Steyn (4). Drop goal: Steyn.

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