Hungry Sharks bully Bulls
Francois Steyn (Gallo Images)
Durban - Louis Ludik ‘s late try helped secure a maximum five-point victory for the Sharks, as they sealed a comfortable 32-10 win over the Bulls, in their Super Rugby encounter at Kings Park in Durban on Friday.
First-half scores from Bismarck du Plessis and JP Pietersen meant the hosts led 20-3 at the break, with captain Keegan Daniel touching down straight after the restart followed by Ludik’s late effort which was the icing on the cake.
The clean-sweep of points ensured the Sharks have every chance of making the play-offs with a top six finish after they moved into sixth place, with a final match against the Cheetahs at home to come next week.
The coastal side should have gone ahead after seven minutes, but Frederic Michalak’s penalty attempt drifted wide off the upright after a strong start from his side.
The hosts continued to dominate the early exchanges and eventually took the lead via a 12th minute try by Bismarck du Plessis, who collected a clever flick by Marcell Coetzee before barging his way over.
Michalak hit the mark this time with the conversion, but the Bulls hit straight back with a Morne Steyn penalty after Pietersen was penalised for coming in from the side.
Frans Steyn then showed his immediate worth in his first match since rejoining the Sharks with a spectacular 55 metre penalty that sailed low between the posts as the home side again took control.
The advantage was extended even further after 25 minutes when Charl McLeod spun the ball to the right and Pietersen dived over in the corner for another converted try.
Pressure continued on the Bulls in all areas and Dean Greyling failed to release in the tackle on the half-hour mark allowing Michalak to pop over three more points.
The Bulls should have cut the deficit moments before the break, but Akona Ndungane was splendidly taken out by a last-gasp Lwazi Mvovo tackle on the right.
John Plumtree’s men held a vital 17-point lead at the break and after the restart, that was stretched to 22 following a third try, scored by skipper Daniel -- the Sharks captain going over on the left after good build-up play between Mvovo and Steyn.
Zane Kirchner pulled a try back for the Pretoria outfit after his side had opted for a penalty scrum in search for quick points.
After Morne Steyn converted, they failed to carve out too many more openings and Ludik went over in the right corner for a late score to cap the win.
Tries: Bismarck du Plessis, JP Pietersen. Keegan Daniel, Louis Ludik
Conversions: Frederic Michalak(2). Meyer Bosman
Penalties: Francois Steyn, Frederic Michalak
Tries: Zane Kirchner
Coversion: Morne Steyn
Penalty: Morné Steyn
Sharks – 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (c), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane
Bulls - 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip vd Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Francois Venter