Bulls win to top Super 14
May 16, 2009
Sharks scrum-half Rory Kockott is clattered by the Bulls defence during a difficult game for his side
© Getty Images
The Bulls sealed their place at the top of the Super 14, and dumped their South African rivals the Sharks out of the competition with a thrilling 27-26 win at Kings Park.
A South African side may lead the log, but the semi-finals will be contested by three New Zealand sides, the Chiefs, Hurricanes and Crusaders. Last season's Champions the Crusaders will travel to face the Bulls at Loftus next weekend.
In a South African derby the stakes were high, with the Sharks requiring a bonus-point win to sneak past the Crusaders in to the final playoff spot. The Sharks looked to dominate early on but their early forays into Bulls territory were ended by some fine lineout work from the ever-impressive Victor Matfield.
The Sharks suffered a further blow when some heavy Bulls pressure yielded a try for Zane Kirchner - the fullback exploiting some poor blindside defence from the home side. The Sharks fought back, with Beast Mtawarira going close before Bulls centre JP Nel saw yellow for a high tackle.
Several half-chances came and went for the Sharks before they were handed a further numerical advantage when Deon Stegmann was sent to the sin-bin. Keegan Daniel was the Sharks player to capitalise - rounding off a Sharks move to draw his side back in to contention. Bulls fly-half Morne Steyn had the final say of the half however, landing a drop goal to go in at half-time 10-5.
It was the Sharks who stole the advantage after the break, with Odwa Ndungane and lock Steven Sykes scoring early on in the half. Sykes' try was a superb, sweeping effort with touches from Terblanche, Mtamawira and Ndungane in the build-up. With the conversion added by Rory Kockott the Sharks has a 19-10 lead, only for Akona Ndungane to cancel out his brother's effort and draw a try back for the Bulls after a break from Pierre Spies.
South Africa coach Peter de Villiers will be worried after Sharks fly-half Ruan Pienaar was stretchered off with an injury, the Sharks losing their shape after his departure. Steyn added another drop-goal before lock Danie Rossouw landed the killer blow for the Bulls, reaching out to score and end any hopes of a Sharks win.
Ryan Kankowski scored late on for the Durban side, but even after a drop-goal conversion from Kockott, time was not on their side.
Sharks :Terblanche; Ndungane, Jacobs, Swanepoel, Pietersen, Pienaar, Kockott, Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Smit, Sykes, Muller (captain), Daniel, Deysel, Kankowski
Replacements: Jannie du Plessis, Carstens, van den Berg, Botes, McLeod, Dumond, Strauss
Bulls: Kirchner; Ndungane, Nel, Olivier, Habana; Steyn, du Preez; Steenkamp, Kuün, Kruger, Botha, Matfield (captain), Stegmann, Potgieter, Spies
Replacements: Ralepelle, Gerber, Rossouw, Wannenburg, Adams, Francis, Pretorius
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales