United Rugby Championship

Bok-laden Sharks down Bulls in Durban to land valuable URC win

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Sbu Nkosi tackles Madosh Tambwe (Getty)
Sbu Nkosi tackles Madosh Tambwe (Getty)

The Springbok-laden Sharks were too strong for the Bulls in Durban on Friday night, bagging a valuable 30-16 victory in the United Rugby Championship. 

Flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain kicked 18 points for the victors, while skipper Lukhanyo Am's intercept try on 54 minutes from a Morne Steyn pass was a massive moment in the match.

The Bulls had led 13-9 after a scrappy first half from both sides, but the Sharks found another gear in the second period and were comfortable winners in the end. 

While South African supporters would have welcomed rugby's return to their screens - there were even a few hundred who ventured to the stadium to catch the action live - the product on offer was what you might expect from two teams that have not played since mid-October. 

It has been a disruptive two weeks for these South African sides thanks to Covid-19, and that much was clear in a contest that at times lacked fluidity and crisp attacking play. 

It wasn't about that, though, and the result was all that mattered, with both franchises having recorded a single victory in their previous four URC fixtures. 

The win for the Sharks sees them climb up to 11th on the URC log while the Bulls remain 15th. 

The hosts would have been pleased with their start to the match, enjoying some promising ventures in the Bulls half. 

It didn't reflect on the scoreboard as they would have hoped, though, and while the Sharks had the majority of the territory and possession, they could not transfer that into points. 

Fielding a side loaded with Springbok superstars Siya Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am and Bongi Mbonambi on debut, it was wing Sbu Nkosi who knocked on in the 18th minute when it looked like he was certain to go over down the right flank. 

Flyhalf Chamberlain did kick the Sharks into a 3-0 lead, but that was short-lived and the Bulls had a try that stemmed from a penalty after the resulting restart. 

Dan Kriel was the scorer, stepping his way to the try line and reaching out to dot down before Morne Steyn converted to make it 7-3. 

Steyn and Chamberlain then exchanged penalties in quick succession to make it 10-6, and then a breakdown infringement from the Sharks allowed the metronomic Steyn to stretch the lead to 13-6 on 37 minutes. 

When Chamberlain landed his third of the night just before the break, the Sharks were 13-9 down after a half where they probably had the better of the contest. 

Chamberlain did miss three penalty kicks from the tee - one in the first half and two in the second - but he did kick the first points of the second period to make it 13-12. 

Then, Am changed the game. 

The Bulls were in possession and probing just outside the Sharks 22m area before Steyn threw a pass that Am telegraphed, intercepting in his familiar nonchalant fashion to dot down under the posts. 

Steyn and Chamberlain exchanged penalties again, but heading into the last 20 minutes, it was the Sharks who had wrestled their way ahead and into a 22-16 lead as both sides turned to their benches. 

When the Bulls needed a strong finish, however, it was the Sharks who were better. 

Chamberlain knocked over his sixth penalty of the evening to make it 25-16, but the killer blow came when replacement hooker Kerron van Vuuren scored the Sharks' second try from a rolling maul. 

The conversion went wide, but a 30-16 lead going into the last 10 minutes was always going to be enough, especially considering the Bulls had a man in the sin bin.  

Scorers:

Sharks 30 (9)

Tries: Lukhanyo Am, Kerron van Vuuren

Conversion: Boeta Chamberlain

Penalties: Chamberlain (6)

Bulls 16 (13)

Try: Dan Kriel

Conversion: Morne Steyn

Penalties: Steyn (3)

Teams:

Sharks

15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Jeandre Labuschagne, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu

Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Werner Kok

Bulls

15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 David Kriel, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Richard Kriel, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Robert Hunt, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp

Substitutes: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Lizo Gqoboka, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Sintu Manjezi, 21 Zak Burger, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Harold Vorster


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