Sharks too strong for Bulls
Durban - The Sharks began the defence of their Absa Currie Cup title in some style as they downed the Vodacom Blue Bulls 35-16 (half-time 22-9) in their match at Mr Price Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
The Durban-based team was full value for their win as they ran in four tries to one with flyhalf Frederick Michalak, who scored 20 points thanks to a try, three conversions and three penalties, and newly-appointed captain Keegan Daniel putting in very strong performances.
Both teams were missing a plethora of players because of international duty but the Sharks’ new-look team made light of the absence of many of their star players to put in an impressive showing on both defence and attack.
The Bulls opened the scoring thanks to a penalty from the boot of flyhalf Francois Brummer but the home side was quick to strike back as Michalak took advantage of a period of sustained pressure from the Sharks with the flyhalf taking a scoring pass from scrumhalf Ross Cronje to dive over from close range.
Michalak succeeded with the conversion as the Sharks edged into a 7-3 lead after nine minutes.
Brummer nailed two penalties as the Bulls regained the lead at the end of the first quarter before Michalak took centre stage.
The pivot succeeded with a penalty before he showed superb composure to set up a try for wing Louis Ludik.
The Sharks had been awarded a penalty, 10 metres from their opponent’s tryline, and the visitors presumed that Michalak would have a shot at goal.
But Michalak noticed Ludik lurking unmarked on the left-hand touchline and the flyhalf put in a pinpoint cross-field kick to Ludik who slipped over for an unconverted try.
The Sharks were gradually gaining the upper hand over their opponents and their growing superiority told with two minutes left in the half through a try from flank Marcell Coetzee.
Cronje began the movement with a sniping break from a scrum. The halfback carried the ball up to the Bulls’ 22-metre line before the ball travelled through the hands of loose forwards Daniel and Jacques Botes with Coetzee on hand to dive over between the posts.
Michalak popped over the simple conversion as the Sharks went to the break holding a handy 22-9 lead.
The Bulls fought their way back in the match six minutes after the restart when flank Derick Kuun barged his way through a weak tackle from Sharks centre Meyer Bosman to crash over the line for a converted try.
But the Sharks struck back almost immediately when flank Daniel was mauled over for the bonus-point try.
Michalak extended the lead with two penalties, in the 64th and 75th minutes, as the Sharks’ defence shut the Bulls down for the rest of the match.
The Sharks - Tries: Frederick Michalak, Louis Ludik, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel; Conversions: Michalak (3); Penalties: Michalak (3).
Vodacom Blue Bulls - Try: Derick Kuun; Conversion: Francois Brummer; Penalties: Brummer (3).
Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Mark Richards, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Eugene van Staden
Substitutes: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Jan Andre Marais, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Jacobus Reinach, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Sibusiso Sithole
Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Stephan Dippenaar, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Dustin Jinka, 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Derick Kuün, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Fudge Mabeta, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Gary Botha (captain), 1 Corné Fourie
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Okkie Kruger, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Francois Venter