The Sharks bounced back from last week's opening Currie Cup loss in emphatic style after beating the Blue Bulls 34-28 in Durban.
The Sharks bounced back from last week's opening Currie Cup loss in emphatic style after beating the Blue Bulls 34-28 in Durban on Saturday.
The hosts scored a full compliment of log points to get their 2010 campaign off the mark, while the Bulls scored a consolation try in the dying moments and then kicked a pressure conversion to earn a bonus point for losing by less than seven.
Eight tries were scored, five of them going to the Sharks and three to the Blue Bulls in a match where the score and fortunes fluctuated throughout.
The Blue Bulls were however mostly catching up after an early 5-0 lead.
The Sharks were simply sharper and hungrier than the Blue Bulls who started off well but then were put under pressure by the running from the breakdown and mistakes.
The Bulls had problems clearing from the scrums, despite being strong in this area. Too often Sharks scrum-half Charl McLeod interfered with a clean heel and caught either Bulls halfback Ruan Snyman or number eight Gerrit-Jan van Velze in possession.
Missed tackles by the Bulls also contributed to their woes and for most of the first half they seemed a rather disjointed unit trying to cope without their 12 players in the national side and two more who are injured.
Likewise the Sharks too often missed their passes or took the wrong options in a match that was fast, furious and exciting but not always of good quality.
The Sharks, who were three times denied by the TMO – Craig Burden was the man who nearly scored on all three occasions – deserved their narrow 10-8 lead at the break. When first Lwazi Mvovo and then Keegan Daniel rounded off two outstanding team tries and took the lead to 13 points at 24-11 the Blue Bulls were in trouble.
Then the momentum changed. The visitors' pack took control as the Bulls can, and Dean Greyling scored a try built on patience and power (24-18).
Another sortie – with the Bulls forwards rampant for all of 60 metres – saw a Jacques-Louis Potgieter penalty shrink the lead to only three points (24-21) with nine minutes to go.
However, after the Sharks squandered and the Bulls fumbled, the home team took the ball wide from a scrum and again it was Mvovo who scored – this time for a bonus point try. Just to rub it in, Sharks number eight Keegan Daniel scored a great solo try – his second of the night – after a kick ahead. At 34-21 it was sealed.
The Blue Bulls were now out of contention, but then good play by the forwards ended in an excellent finish well after the hooter by Gerhard van den Heever. It was converted from the corner by Potgieter for a Blue Bulls bonus point.
Tries: Burden, Daniel 2, Mvovo 2
Cons: Lambie 3
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Greyling, Van Velze, Van den Heever
Cons: Potgieter 2
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Stefan Terblanche (c), 12 Patrick Lambie, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Steve Meyer, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Patric Cilliers.
Replacements:16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Monty Dumond, 22 Andries Strauss.
Blue Bulls:15 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Stephan Dippenaar, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 John Mametsa, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 7 Derick Kuhn, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Fudge Mabeta, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha (c), 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Berend Botha, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Danie Faasen, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Hayden Groepes.
Referee: Jason Jafth