Vodacom Super 14

Bulls outclass Sharks

2010-05-01 20:48
Morne Steyn (Gallo)
Pretoria - Defending champions the Bulls created a five-point lead at the top of the Super 14 table after taking charge in the second half to defeat the Sharks 27-19 in a South African derby on Saturday.

Chasing a third southern hemisphere championship title in four years, the Pretoria franchise turned a 3-12 deficit midway through the first half into a 15-point lead before their Durban opponents snatched a late try.

Victory lifted the Bulls to 43 points with two rounds left, five more than the Cape Town-based Stormers, and the teams clash in the final group fixture on May 15 at Newlands.

The Crusaders of New Zealand, champions a record seven times, and title-less Reds of Australia clung to the other top-four positions with 34 points each despite heavy weekend losses.

But they face a three-prong challenge from the Waratahs and Brumbies of Australia and Hurricanes of New Zealand as the pool phase reaches its customary thrilling climax.

Confident after five consecutive wins and needing a bonus-point victory to keep alive slim hopes of a semi-finals spot, the Sharks dominated the early exchanges before a 45 000 crowd at damp, chilly Loftus Versfeld.

Under pressure, a Bulls team often slow to settle conceded penalties and former England fly-half Andy Goode was in deadly form, landing four in a row from a range of angles and distances.

Bulls flyhalf and leading Super 14 points scorer Morne Steyn missed his first shot at goal, then successfully slotted three penalty attempts between the posts to leave the Sharks 12-9 ahead at half-time.

Bulls and Springbok lock Bakkies Botha, making his first Super 14 appearance of the season after injury, did not come out for the second half and watched from the sideline as his team-mates slowly but surely tightened the screws.

After both teams came close to breaking the try deadlock, Steyn kicked his fourth penalty on 59 minutes and the teams were level at 12-12 although the Sharks were pinned in their half and often defending desperately.

It was a matter of time before the visitors cracked and just past the hour mark the inevitable happened with a break by fullback Zane Kirchner sending centre Jacques-Louis Potgieter over.

Steyn converted and added a penalty before young wing Gerhard van den Heever scored the Bulls second try, snatching the ball after a crossfield kick from scrumhalf Fourie du Preez ran loose and diving over in the corner.

Sharks replacement scrum-half Rory Kockott set up a tense finish with a try he converted, but the Bulls comfortably held on and are unbeaten in 17 Super matches at Loftus.

15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Francois Hougaard, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Fourie du Preez, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Dewald Potgieter, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Victor Matfield (captain), 4. Bakkies Botha, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Gary Botha, 1. Gurthrö Steenkamp

Substitutes: 16. Bandise Maku, 17. Bees Roux, 18. Danie Rossouw, 19. Derick Kuün, 20. Heini Adams, 21. Stephan Dippenaar, 22. Pedrie Wannenburg

15. Patrick Lambie, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Stefan Terblanche, 12. Riaan Swanepoel, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Andy Goode, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Willem Alberts, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Johann Muller, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. John Smit (captain)

Substitutes: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Tendai Mtawarira, 18. Alistair Hargreaves, 19. Keegan Daniel, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Andries Strauss, 22. Luzuko Vulindlu


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