Bulls batter poor Sharks

21st May 2011, 20:45

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Steyn: Twenty-two points

Steyn: Twenty-two points

An immense defensive showing from the Bulls saw the men from Pretoria claim an invaluable 32-23 win over the Sharks.

An immense defensive showing from the Bulls saw the men from Pretoria claim an invaluable 32-23 win over the Sharks.

In what was a scrappy encounter, the difference between the two teams was clear to see; where the Sharks bumbled forward the Bulls were clinical, making use of whatever possession came their way.

One of the Sharks' most effective tactics thus far this season has been using Willem Alberts and since his return from injury, Jean Deysel, as battering rams. On Saturday the Bulls rendered this largely ineffective, with dedicated, accurate defence putting a stop to the duo's surges before they started.

The Sharks' line-outs were an unadulterated mess, with Bismarck du Plessis missing his jumpers time after time. With the all-Springbok front row failing to dominate both in the tight and the loose, the Sharks were unable to build a suitable platform from which the backs could attack.

Hamstrung by persistent handling errors the home side couldn't string the phases together and the Bulls made them pay for their lack of control with the boot of Morne Steyn punishing the Sharks on countless occasions.

Francois Hougaard crossed for the first of the Bulls' two tries in the eighth minute, and it came as a result of an error at line-out time from the Sharks. Inside his own 22, Du Plessis couldn't find his jumper, the loose ball was snapped up by Steyn and recycled to Hougaard, who shrugged off the attentions of Alberts to dot down under the posts.

Missed tackles again cost the home side in the fifteenth minute when Dean Greyling busted through the Sharks midfield before Bakkies Botha dived over from the base of the resulting ruck. It was ugly rugby from the men in black but the Bulls deserved credit for taking their chances.

Patrick Lambie kicked over a penalty on either side of the two tries but with Steyn adding a penalty of his own as well as drop goal, the Bulls headed into the break with a well deserved seventeen-point lead.

As was the case in the first forty, it was Steyn who opened the scoring with an early penalty after the Sharks were penalised at scrum time.

But it was the Sharks who began to show glimpses of class and they were rewarded in the 54th minute, with Bismarck du Plessis diving over the whitewash after McLeod had gone close after taking a quick tap.

The Sharks began to control the game more but were their own worst enemy, with unforced errors preventing them from making the most of their chances.

With Steyn adding two penalties in the final quarter to Lambie's one, the Bulls maintained a healthy advantage. As such, an Adrian Jacobs try six minutes from time was not enough to give the visitors too much to worry about in the final stages.

Lambie missed a kickable penalty after the hooter to ensure the Sharks would not be picking up a late bonus point, capping off what was a miserable night for the men from Durban. Conversely, the Bulls are looking stronger and stronger ever week and are at last starting to look like the defending Super Rugby champions.

The scorers:

For the Sharks:
Tries: B du Plessis, Jacobs
Con: Lambie 2
Pen: Lambie 3

For the Bulls:
Tries: Hougaard, B Botha
Con: Steyn 2
Pen:Steyn 5
Drop: Steyn

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche (c), 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Eugene van Staden,18 Gerhard Mostert, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 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 (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Derick Kuün, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)