A torrential downpour in Durban meant there were not many opportunities for running rugby as the Sharks beat the Blue Bulls 18-5 in their Currie Cup match at Kings Park on Saturday.
The Blue Bulls are embarking on a new expansive approach under director of rugby John Mitchell, but they never had much chance to apply their tactics, not just because the ball became a slippery bar of soap, but also because they had no set-piece platform.
This was because the Sharks were totally dominant in the scrums and lineouts, and they used this platform well. Keegan Daniel, especially, picked off numerous Blue Bulls throws at the front of the lineout. Set-piece fragility has been a recurring problem this year for the Bulls.
Who was the star in this match?
For all the power the Sharks showed up front, the man of the match was Curwin Bosch for the silky skills he showed at flyhalf. He was a true general, running the game brilliantly, and his kicking out of hand was sublime. He missed two long-range penalties and a conversion, but in the awful conditions – sodden underfoot – that was excusable. But he settled the Sharks with an important 54th-minute angled penalty that quelled a Bulls second-half comeback.
Key moments and themes
- Bosch was also instrumental in the opening try, in the third minute. The Sharks’ ball was almost turned over by a fierce Bulls counter-ruck, but they did well to retain possession, and the 20-year-old flyhalf’s little chip across the field was pinpoint and wing S’bu Nkosi was able to gather and score untouched.
- The Sharks used a very direct approach to set up their second try, in the 19th minute, and once the forwards had made their way into the shadow of the poles, scrumhalf Michael Claassens used a long pass out wide to put flank Daniel into space and he slid over for the try (12-0).
- The Blue Bulls were better in the second half, but what started as a comedy of errors for them ended up in a try at the other end. The Sharks were on attack as a great touchfinder by Bosch gave them territory and they won a penalty. Bosch’s kick came off the post though, but the Bulls made an awful mess of the rebound, conceding a scrum close to their line. But scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl managed to make a fool of opposite number Claassens, robbing him of the ball and then kicking it downfield. They ended up being given a scrum and replacement Tim Agaba showed great skills as an eighthman as he managed to pick up the ball at the back of a retreating scrum and made yards on the blindside. The ball squirted loose as the ruck formed, but the referee ruled it had come off a foot and lock Aston Fortuin was able to gather and slide over the line for a try that closed the gap to 5-12.
- Other top-class performers for the Sharks were prop Thomas du Toit, lock Ruan Botha, and tough inside centre Marius Louw. Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard made a half-hour appearance off the bench but did not make a major impact as the home side sealed a home semi-final with a 13-point lead at the top of the log.
Sharks: Tries – S’bu Nkosi, Keegan Daniel. Conversion – Curwin Bosch. Penalty – Bosch. Drop goal – Bosch.
Blue Bulls: Try – Aston Fortuin.