The Sharks were worthy and deserved 39-9 winners over a game Bulls’ side in their final warm-up match on Wednesday evening at The Absa Stadium Durban.
Mike Marnewick, www.sharksrugby.co.za
In running in six tries to none, the Sharks signaled their intentions to play running rugby as much as possible, and despite the Bulls opting to run more in the second half, the Sharks probably played better rugby as their superior manpower gave the Bulls a torrid time on attack.
The first half belonged to the home side with the Bulls rarely venturing into The Sharks’ half. The Sharks certainly had the measure of their opposition – and more – as they camped inside the Bulls’ half for much of the game. The Bulls battled to get any ball, but when they did, they opted to kick for touch rather than send it to their backs and challenge The Sharks’ defence.
In terms of possession and territory, it was a totally one-sided affair and The Sharks could have doubled their score had they finished off more of their forays into the Bulls’ 22. To their credit though, they certainly tested the visitors on defence. The Bulls were fairly effective in the physicality stakes – as they always are – but on attack they offered very little, in one instance opting to kick a penalty rather than attack from inside The Sharks’ 22.
The Bulls managed to start the second half with a bit more impetus but quickly signaled their intentions, going for two drop goals, missing both. The superior defence of the Sharks kept their tryline intact but the Bulls did provide them with decent opposition and certainly didn’t come to Durban to roll over and die.
As much frustration there was in missed opportunities, so there was plenty to cheer about as the Sharks showed what they are capable of when they sense the tryline ahead of them and when they attacked with purpose, there was a sense of the inevitable about their forrays into Bulls’ territory.
Not only did the players receive a good run, but some important game time was enjoyed by players who until now were fringe players but who may well feature in the upcoming Vodacom Super14.
The good news is that there were no injuries from this match and the Sharks can expect to start welcoming back from injury some of the beefy front rowers in the coming week as they plan for the Stormers’ match in Cape Town next Saturday when they get their Vodacom Super 14 campaign off to a start.
Sharks: 39 (14)
Tries: Ruan Pienaar, Craig Burden (2), Ross Cronje, Francois Steyn, Odwa Ndungane
Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (2), Francois Steyn
Drop-Goal: Francois Steyn
Bulls: 9 (3)
Penalties: Francois Brummer (3)