‘Hungrier’ Sharks thump the Bulls

2012-07-07 00:00

THE Sharks, who play their most effective rugby in times of adversity, were in sublime form at King’s Park last night as they thumped the Bulls 32-10 in their Super Rugby derby to revive their play-off aspirations.

The Sharks out-scored the Bulls by four tries to one, attacking strongly in the first half and defending resolutely in the second. They have joined the Stormers and the Bulls in the top six and a win over the Cheetahs in their final game next week will secure them a play-off berth.

John Plumtree’s team were without influential Springboks Willem Alberts and Pat Lambie but their replacements, number eight Ryan Kankowski and fullback Louis Ludik were prominent in the win. Ludick scored the crucial bonus point try in the 78th minute.

The battle was won by the Sharks forwards, who scrummed powerfully and excelled in the lineout with the fiercely committed Kankowski the surprise package.

Keegan Daniel, the Sharks captain, said he was delighted his team had shown their capabilities after they “let themselves down in losing to the Lions.”

“We knew that if we could pressure the Bulls’ lineout, the source of so much of their attack, we would be in with a chance. “

Bulls captain Pierre Spies paid tribute to the Sharks.

“They were certainly the hungrier team. They came out firing and we battled in the scrum and the lineout.”

While Kankowski was named man of the match, the award could easily have gone to hooker Bismarck du Plessis or flank Marcell Coetzee, who were heavily involved in the most bruising of contests.

The Sharks, slick, sharp and well-prepared, started with a spring in their step . Out-muscling the Bulls forwards, they opened the scoring after 11 minutes when bustling hooker Bismarck du Plessis carried a couple of opponents over the line. Fred Michalak converted, but the Bulls, on a rare trip into Sharks’ territory, responded with a Morné Steyn penalty.

Sharks centre Frans Steyn, who had a poor night with his kicking out of hand, landed a monster penalty for a 10-3 lead after the first quarter. The Sharks continued to take the ball through the phases and wing JP Pietersen rounded off as scrumhalf Charl McLeod exploited a gap on the blindside. Michalak converted from the touchline and then added a penalty as the Sharks crossed over 20-3 in front.

The Sharks started the second half strongly and a wave of attacks ended with Daniel spinning out of a tackle to score the third try (25-3).

Finally, the Bulls lineout started to function and the Sharks spent much of the second half on defence. Centre JJ Englebrecht made several telling breaks but it was fullback Zane Kirchner who gave the Bulls some hope when he rounded off with a try in the corner. Steyn converted well (25-10) but that was as close as the Bulls came.

The Sharks kept making tackle after tackle in the closing quarter and then struck decisively in the closing moments when a penalty set up a strong attack and Ludik crossed for the Sharks’ fourth try. Replacement flyhalf Meyer Bosman popped over the angled conversion to seal the 22-point winning margin.

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