The Sharks, with several World Cup winning Springboks in their side, waited for the second half against the Bulls to land the knockout blow in their United Rugby Championship match in Durban on Friday, winning 30-16.
After a fairly even first 40 minutes, the Sharks scored 21 second half points to the Bulls’ three to win the highly-anticipated match – the first derby between the South African teams in the competition, after the last two rounds against overseas opposition were cancelled.
As expected there wasn’t much separating the teams and it was a ding-dong battle throughout.
After an initial period of shaking off the rust after several weeks of inactivity, both team delivered some good quality rugby.
While the Sharks seemed to dominate the contest and had the upperhand in possession and territory it was the Bulls who enjoyed the better of the first half. They made the most of the ball they had and despite home town No 10 Boeta Chamberlain kicking a penalty on 20 minutes to open the scoring the Bulls led 10-3 after half an hour.
The Bulls’ David Kriel jinked his way over the line for a converted try soon after Chamberlain’s opener and then Morne Steyn slotted a penalty.
The two No 10s then traded penalties in the latter stages of the half; the Bulls going into thee break 13-9 up.
The see-saw match continued after the restart, but the Sharks certainly looked the stronger side. And they made that little advantage count by first cloing the gap with a Chamberlain penalty and then taking the lead through a converted try by captain Lukhanyo Am, who intercepted a Bulls pass with the visitors on the attack in Sharks territory.
The Sharks deserved their 19-13 lead, before that changed to 22-16 after further Chamberlain and Steyn penalties.
The Bulls’ discipline then let them down, with replacement prop Lizo Gqoboka sin-binned after repeated team infringements and then Arno Botha was penalised for foul play, allowing Chamberlain to kick a sixth penalty.
And when replacement hooker Kerron van Vuuren went over from a lineout drive with less than 10 minutes to play, it was all over for the Bulls.
Tries: Am, Van Vuuren; Conversion: Chamberlain; Penalties: Chamberlain (6)
Try: Kriel; Conversion: Steyn; Penalties: Steyn (3)