Sharks coach Sean Everitt said he felt his team was still in good health at halftime as they only trailed the Bulls 9-17 in their Super Rugby Unlocked match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, but the unrelenting physical bombardment of the home side eventually saw them subside to a 41-14 hammering.
The Sharks had actually had the better of the exchanges in the first half and they led until the 28th minute when the Bulls scored the first of two quickfire tries before the break. Thereafter it was one-way traffic.
“There are no excuses, we started really well, but then we leaked two soft tries. But we still felt very much in the game at halftime, but the Bulls have a very good pack, big and physical, and they just wore us down in the second half. We had a dominant scrum until Thomas du Toit went off because of his calf, and we had a lot of go-forward in the first half.
“I like to think we also matched them in the loose in certain periods, but it was just our execution that let us down. The breakdown was going well when we had forward dominance in our carries, but I think the Bulls just outmuscled us a bit in the end and Marco van Staden is a great fetcher and not a Springbok for nothing. We were also not accurate enough in our kicking game,” Everitt said after the match.
Hooker Dylan Richardson was the outstanding player for the Sharks and scored a beauty of a try, after a lovely little dart by eighthman Sikhumbuzo Notshe, to keep the Sharks in the game at 14-24 down after 53 minutes. But the rest of the second half belonged to the Bulls as they scored three more tries. The lineouts were a particular area of concern for the Sharks as the Bulls stole a few balls against Richardson’s throw.
“Dylan’s general play was outstanding, he made lots of tackles and won three turnovers for us. It was a big step for him to move from openside flank in Super Rugby, but we feel hooker is a position he can excel in and his throwing is just a teething problem, that will get better with game time,” Everitt said.