SIMON BORCHARDT reports on the Blue Bulls’ 42-31 win against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.
The Bulls had been badly affected by flu during the week, but the 22 that made it on to the field more than did the job. Flyhalf Louis Fouché contributed 27 points with the boot, with nine successful attempts out of nine, while flanker CJ Stander was impressive with ball in hand. The only disappointment, from the hosts’ point of view, was that they weren’t able to get the bonus point for four tries in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Two penalties from Fouché gave the Bulls a 6-0 lead as they aimed to spread the ball wide in the opening quarter (the Sharks were forced to make 21 tackles, and missed five).
But the visitors edged in front when an up and under from flyhalf Riaan Viljoen saw fullback Louis Ludik regain possession near the Bulls’ 22 and offload to Steven Sykes. The second rower was brought to ground just before the line but gave the try-scoring pass to flanker Jean Deysel.
Fouché made it 9-8 soon after with his third penalty and then slotted a 53m drop goal.
The Sharks then regained the lead when scrumhalf Charl McLeod scored on the stroke of half-time. The TMO ruled that the final pass, from Sykes, had not gone forward, although the Loftus crowd obviously disagreed.
Fouché kicked another two penalties early in the second half and Viljoen one, before the Bulls extended their lead to eight points with a long-range try that saw winger Akona Ndungane put Stander away.
The Sharks struck back immediately through centre Marius Joubert, but Fouché’s sixth penalty and tries to replacement loose forward Arno Botha (after another strong run from Stander) and inside centre Francois Venter put the result beyond doubt.
While the Bulls couldn’t get the bonus-point try the Sharks did, when Akona Ndungane scored after the full-time hooter.