Bulls too good for Sharks in much-hyped URC clash at Loftus
The Bulls were impressive as they ran riot against the Sharks, scoring six tries on their way to winning 44-10.
Bulls outside Stedman Gans stole the show against the Sharks with his brace of tries. Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images.
The Bulls’ attack showed its prowess as they defeated the Springboks–laden Sharks 44-10 in a United Rugby Championship clash on Saturday afternoon at Loftus Versfeld.
Around 24,515 spectators flocked to Loftus to witness a titanic clash between two teams that boasted 10 Rugby World Cup Springboks between them, but neutrals would have been disappointed by how the contest turned out as the Sharks were a no-show.
However, those who were wearing blue jumpers in the stands were thrilled as they watched their side march on to a fifth win of the URC season and move to second place on the log.
In what was a rather interesting turn of events before the kickoff, the Loftus Versfeld DJ, whether he was playing mind games or paying tribute to the Sharks’ World Cup-winning Springboks, decided to play the Springboks 2023 World Cup anthem, “Amabokoboko (Sister Bokina)” by Mgarimbe as Lukhanyo Am walked the team onto the field.
That seemed to spark something in the Sharks as they started the match like a house on fire, with their backline venturing into the Bulls’ half.
The visitors knew scoring at Loftus would be tough due to the nature of the match, but they made sure to kick for the poles early with Curwin Bosch open the scoring.
Bulls try fest
The home team took their time to get into the game but when they did they dominated, for much of the rest of the encounter.
The Bulls quickly drew level on the scoreboard with a penalty from Johan Goosen to make it 3-3 after 10 minutes and three minutes later from a scrum the ball moved to Goosen at first receiver, who then found Canan Moodie, and he then beat a Sharks defender and teed up Stedman Gans who went on to finish a lovely worked try. Goosen converted to give his side a 10-3 lead.
The Bulls’ confidence grew in the game as they started to take control of matters, even gaining dominance in the set-piece. The altitude and heat factor seemed to affect the Sharks on the day.
Bad to worse for Sharks
The Sharks’ half went from bad to worse when hooker Fez Mbatha received a yellow card after hitting Kurt-Lee Arendse with his shoulder around the head.
The Bulls made their numerical advantage count as Stedman Gans went over for two tries before the break.
Winger Kurt-Lee Arendse added a further five points in the 32nd minute, showing determination to touch down behind the white line after Cameron Hanekom found him on the wing with an improvised pass.
Before the stroke of halftime, the Bulls added a fourth try through hooker Akker van der Merwe, who controlled the ball from the back of the maul to score for the Bulls to lead 27-3 at halftime.
The Sharks knew they needed to start well in the second half if they were to salvage something from the game.
They went on the offence but then looked disjointed. The team went the pragmatic route in attack and got a penalty try to take the score to 27-10.
The Bulls suddenly found themselves under pressure as the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Ox Nche, Makazole Mapimpi, and Am tried to make things happen, but the home side weathered the attack and managed to force them into errors to get red zone exits.
As the game wore on Bulls captain Elrigh Louw scored a try and so did Van der Merwe get a second, after a neat chip-kick into space by David Kriel.
Tries- Stedman Gans (2), Kurt Lee-Arendse, Akker van der Merwe (2), Elrigh Louw; Conversions – Johan Goosen (4); Penalty – Goosen (2)
Tries- Penalty try; Conversions – ; Penalty – Curwin Bosch