The Blue Bulls kept abreast with their adversaries in the Absa Currie Cup with a perfectly implemented game-plan as they laboured to a 35-14 victory over the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
The match had been poised for an epic battle with a stern rivalry developing between the two sides in the past few seasons but all the pre-match hype evaporated with the referee’s consistent blowing of the whistle and unnecessary referrals to the TMO Michael Cupido.
For the better part of the game, referee JC Fortuin failed to commit himself to any decision and opted to refer matters to Cupido who wasted precious time by taking longer than two minutes to come to a decision leaving the Loftus faithful agitated and feeling like they were at an American Football match instead of a rugby union game.
Regardless, the Bulls kept their heads throughout the match and through sheer determination to turn the course of history with the Sharks having enjoyed some memorable victories at Loftus Versfeld in recent times.
It was the Bulls who were first off the mark when Tiger Mangweni scored the first of his two tries as early as the seventh minute before Wynand Olivier emphasised the Bulls dominance with a try in the 21st minute.
Mangweni crashed over again in the 29th minute but it took another handful of minutes to finally award the try by Cupido.
The Sharks had been kept in the loop by flyhalf Monty Dumond who slotted over three penalties in the first half.
In the second half, it was the Blue Bulls who ran with intent thrusting bodies forward in an attempt to get an early breakthrough so as to set up the opportunity and enough time to go for that all important bonus point.
As much as the Bulls gained momentum on the front foot, they could hardly get within striking distance for the Sharks’ tryline as the visitors defended with all their lives.
Steyn missed an early penalty which would have stretched the Bulls’ lead even further but stood up to the task in the 63rd minute when he slotted over a penalty to give the Bulls a 19 point lead and one the Sharks struggled to nullify.
Five minutes before Steyn’s successful penalty, Springbok forward Danie Rossouw had scored what looked like a legitimate try but Cupido disallowed it rightfully awarding a penalty to the Sharks for Rossouw committing a double movement.
For all their efforts and under a relentless attack from the Bulls team, the Sharks were able to string together a few encouraging movements and their efforts were duly rewarded when Albert van den Berg scored among a pile of bodies to add some respectability to the scoreboard with the Sharks still trailing 28-14 in the 71st minute.
The final blow in the Sharks’ last ditch attempt was from replacement scrumhalf Francois Hougaard who picked up the ball from the base of the ruck and dived over to ensure victory for the Bulls and depose the Sharks at the top of the Currie Cup log.Tweet