Relentless Sharks counter punch their way to a fine victory

Curwin Bosch of the Cell C Sharks during the Currie Cup match between Cell C Sharks XV and Vodacom Blue Bulls at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium on August 25, 2018 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Pote Human’s infuriating Blue Bulls very much prove their own worst enemies against a slick home side.

Blue Bulls coach Pote Human must have felt like he was going to die of frustration as his team made numerous handling errors and allowed the Sharks to register a 26-10 victory in their Currie Cup match at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

The Sharks were worthy winners because they were like ruthless assassins in outscoring their opponents by four tries to one, and they undoubtedly contributed to the butter-fingers of the visitors through their excellent, never-say-die, scrambling defence.

But the Blue Bulls were way more competitive than the scoreline suggests, creating numerous opportunities for themselves, only for highly-promising moves to break down as the ball was lost.

Who was the star in this match?

The Sharks produced a fine all-round performance that gave the Bulls little leeway, but it was two replacements who eventually ensured the visitors were dead and buried. Centre Johan Deysel came on at centre late in the first half and the Namibian was an absolute wrecking-ball. He carried and defended with astonishing ferocity. Scrumhalf Cameron Wright also made a major impact and his accurate kicking from the base put the Blue Bulls under severe pressure.

Key moments and themes

  • The Sharks were superb at attacking from their own territory and they set the tone in the sixth minute with the opening try from prop Juan Schoeman. Fullback Curwin Bosch started a lovely counter-attack and then kicked ahead to force a five-metre scrum from wing Jamba Ulengo, who did well to win the race to the ball but then knocked-on. The Sharks kept their composure well to score.
  • Jesse Kriel, released by the Boks, replied with the visitors’ only try, in the 16th minute. The Blue Bulls kicked a penalty to touch and flank Thembalani Bholi did good work in the build-up, especially with a long pass over the top to Ulengo, who was stopped just short of the line. But Kriel had the strength to reach over and score. The 24-year-old would have wanted to turn in a stellar performance yet made some silly handling errors of his own throughout.
  • Ahead 10-7 midway through the first half, wing Jade Stighling twice had opportunities to stretch the lead even further for the Blue Bulls. But after his brilliant take of an Andre Warner box-kick, he couldn’t link up with Ulengo, and then, after a strong break by flank Ruan Steenkamp, Stighling lost the ball at the tryline. From that turnover, the Sharks were able to score a superb breakaway try.
  • The Sharks were able to go into a healthy 21-10 lead at halftime with another try two minutes before the break. Hanging on to the ball well for nine phases, quick hands by flyhalf Robert du Preez created some space out wide for wing Kobus van Wyk and he showed exquisite footwork.
  • After the Blue Bulls had wasted a couple of chances and the TMO disallowed a try by each side, the Sharks scored the only points of the second half in the 64th minute when Aphelele Fassi, making his debut in the Currie Cup, scored with his first touch of the ball. The try was set up by the accuracy of Wright’s up-and-under, and when Libbok could not gather the ball, the lanky winger pounced and roared away for the try.

Point scorers

SharksTries: Juan Schoeman, Curwin Bosch, Kobus van Wyk, Aphelele Fassi. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3).

Blue BullsTry: Jesse Kriel. Conversion: Manie Libbok. Penalty: Libbok.

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