The Blue Bulls beat the Sharks 42-31 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night. The home side overcame a week where they could only manage one practice because most of their squad were suffering from flu to produce a stirring second half performance which blew an inexperienced Sharks side out of the game.
The standout performer of the match was Blue Bulls was young flyhalf Louis Fouche who kicked six penalties, three conversions and a drop goal. As early as the third minute Fouche was already lining up a shot at goal for the Bulls after a Charl McLeod pass went to no one and the Bulls won a penalty after the ensuing scrum. After Fouche added another penalty goal, the Sharks scored the first try of the match through Jean Deysel. Fouche added another penalty goal and a drop goal before Charl McLeod scored a try on the stroke of half time. Riaan Viljoen kicked a conversion which hit both poles before going over to give the Sharks a 14-12 half time lead.
The first half was one in which the Blue Bulls dominated territory and possession but did not have any tries to show for it. The Sharks made good use of their try scoring opportunities to go in to half time ahead.
The second half started with Fouche and Viljoen trading penalties after which Fouche put the Bulls 18-17 into a lead which they would not relinquish again. CJ Stander scored the first try for the Bulls after a turnover resulted in a sweeping move almost across the length of the field and ended in the speedy loose forward diving over. Fouche put the Bulls further ahead before Arno Botha scored the second try for the Bulls.
Another turnover from the Sharks allowed the Bulls to eventually score a try on seventy minutes through Francois Venter that put the home side pretty much out of sight at 42-24. The Sharks tried to force their way back into the game but small errors kept relieving the pressure they were putting the Bulls under.
The Sharks ultimately did manage to score a try after the final hooter through Odwa Ndungane that gave them a bonus point but was not enough to prevent the Sharks from a comprehensive defeat.
Although the result is certainly a disappointing one, the bonus point could prove crucial by the end of the competition. We all need to remember how many players the Sharks have unavailable through injury and national call ups. On top of that, the Sharks have a new captain in Jean Deysel. A huge positive from the game was how the Sharks managed to score four tries against a side which dominated the breakdowns and the set pieces. There is certainly much to work on for the Sharks but this is a young team who will learn from this experience and come out stronger.Tweet