Planet Rugby

Sharks fall at Loftus

22nd March 2014 18:54

Share:

Marcell Coetzee of the Sharks Super Rugby v Bulls

On the charge: Marcell Coetzee

The Sharks conceded their first defeat of the Super Rugby season on Saturday, going down 23-19 to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

The Sharks nevertheless retain retain top spot in the standings after the Chiefs lost to the Force earlier on Saturday.

In a match where the margin for error was always going to be minimal, the Bulls showed greater composure when their opponents enjoyed the ascendancy and it was evident that the injection of more experience to their pack of forwards helped them remain calm in situations where they had previously panicked.

As far as derbies go, this one lived up to all expectations as the level of physicality was as on par with what is experienced at Test level while tactical decisions by the respective coaching boxes also had a significant influence on the flow of play.

The Sharks experienced some mixed emotions in the opening quarter as they were jubilant after scoring the first try, while also depressed as they watched their starting half-back pairing leave the field injured.

The visitors struck as early as the seventh minute through Willem Alberts following a splendid line-break by Cobus Reinach.

Reinach managed to off-load to S'bura Sithole who set up a ruck close to the Bulls line. From there the home side's scramble defence failed miserably with JJ Engelbrecht rushing-up and leaving the overlap for Alberts to dive over.

Prior to their first score fly-half Patrick Lambie left the field with a mystery injury and was replaces by debutant Tim Swiel while Reinach limped-off shortly after the try leaving Charl McLeod to do the hard work.

The Bulls would eventually get off the mark with a penalty conversion by Jacques-Louis Potgieter in the 15th minute - from which they seemed to find their rhythm following a somewhat sluggish start to proceedings.

This lead to a period of sustained pressure and far more enterprising play by the Bulls who then cut the deficit down to one point as Potgieter slotted a drop-goal for his team's second points of the evening.

Despite the improved continuity with ball in hand, ill-discipline would cost the home side with Man-of-the-Match Frans Steyn as accurate as ever from 60 metres out.

Steyn slotted a second penalty before the break to restore the seven point lead the Sharks enjoyed at the start of the match.

Heading into the second half with a 13-6 lead, the men from Durban would have anticipated the Bulls fightback and although managing to turn possession over through regulars like Bismarck du Plessis, the failed to counter the inevitable second half surge.

The Bulls tradition of being at the most dangerous in the first 10 minutes after half-time was confirmed when Jacques du Plessis scored his first Super Rugby try from what should have been a standard first channel decisive effort by the Sharks.

The bulky flanker broke two tackles and with Potgieter's conversion the scores were level.

JJ Engelbrecht then finishes-off after Bjorn Basson displayed an amazing turn in pace to cut through an unsuspecting Sharks backline.

Bjorn was stopped metres from the Sharks line from where the ball was flung wide by Jacques-Louis Potgieter.

Suddenly, following the conversion, the Bulls enjoyed a seven-point lead.

From a penalty won at scrum-time by replacement Dale Chadwick, Steyn added his team's first points of the half to make it a four-point match with little more than 13 minutes left to play.

Another uncharacteristically poor decision by the Bulls at the breakdown - Du Plessis deciding to play the scrum-half - allowed Steyn to line-up another long range penalty to make it a one-point game with 10 minutes remaining in the contest.

The replacement of the Sharks props was one of the best tactical decisions Jake White made on the night as the pair would again win a penalty at scrum-time that could have put their team in front.

But on that occasion Steyn opted to go for the line and set-up an attacking line-out.

This turned out to be a crucial error on judgment from the visiting side.

Steyn received the ball just outside the Bulls 22 Steyn and attempted to get his side ahead with a drop-goal, but his failed shot meant that his side was driven back into their own half.

With time running out and desperation setting becoming a huge factor, the previous accuracy the Sharks enjoyed at the tackle area fell away and replacement pivot Handre Pollard kicked-over a 77th minute penalty to seal the win for the Pretoria outfit.

The scorers:

For Bulls:
Tries: Du Plessis, Engelbrecht
Cons: JL Potgieter 2
Pens: JL Potgieter, Pollard
Drop: JL Potgieter

For Sharks:
Try: Alberts
Con: Swiel
Pens: Steyn 4

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 Morné Mellet.

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Andre Esterhuizen.

Venue: Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommenstein (South Africa)

By Michael Mentz

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Preview
London Welsh vs Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Preview
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Sunday , November 23
Georgia vs JapanGeorgia vs Japan Preview
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Preview
Edinburgh vs Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Preview
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Lyon vs Montpellier18:00
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:00
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
England 28 - 9 Samoa
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Exeter828
2Bath828
3Northampton726
4Saracens724
5Wasps820