Heyneke Meyer’s first-choice Bulls side beat the Sharks 17-3 in the second warm-up match at Sun City, after leading 14-0 at half-time.
Bok lock Bakkies Botha scored the only try of the match early in the first half, with flyhalf Derick Hougaard adding another four penalties.
All three kickers had an off day with the boot, with Hougaard succeeding with three from five (and missing two drop goals in the first five minutes), Percy Montgomery one from three, and Ruan Pienaar missing his only attempt at goal from 50m out.
While Meyer will be satisfied by the way his side cruised to victory, he will be stressing over hooker Gary Botha, who left the field with a knee injury early in the game.
The Bulls played their usual physical brand of rugby, by taking charge up front and spreading the ball wide after sucking in the Sharks forwards. They also dominated the rucks and were rewarded with several penalties from referee Tappe Henning.
Botha ruled supreme in the line-outs (although AJ Venter did manage to steal one throw), while Danie Rossouw bashed it up whenever he could.
For the Sharks, JP Pietersen had another blinder in the No 15 jersey. He almost scored just before half-time when he broke the Bulls defence and kicked ahead, but he couldn’t regather the ball before the tryline.
Pietersen’s cousin, right wing Dusty Noble, also did his Super 14 chances no harm, while Montgomery was solid at flyhalf. Free State import Andries Strauss threatened the Bulls defence throughout the game, with his midfield partner Gcobani Bobo showing touches of the form that made him a Springbok.
Sharks coach Dick Muir was satisfied with the way his two sides played on the day.
“The matches were exactly what we expected,” he said. “I was very pleased with the depth of talent we saw on show. The Bulls have the most depth in the country, so for us to win that first game was a great achievement. I actually felt we could have won it by a bigger margin. I was a bit worried about our depth in the backs, but the younger guys came through brilliantly.”
Muir was equally satisfied with the Sharks’ effort in the 5pm game, even though the result went against them.
“I was very happy with our defence and thought we did some good things on attack,” he said. “We were probably guilty of not taking the chances that came our way and that’s something we’ll have to work on.
“JP [Pietersen] showed some great flair at fullback, while Monty did a good job at flyhalf. However, there were times when Monty was caught in two minds and didn’t know whether to pass or kick. But I have no doubt he will do a great job for us in the Super 14.”
Bulls – Try: Bakkies Botha. Penalty: Derick Hougaard (4).
Sharks – Penalty: Percy Montgomery.
15 JP Pietersen, 14 Dusty Noble, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Brett Hennessey, 10 Percy Montgomery, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Jacques Botes, 7 Nico Breedt, 6 Warren Britz, 5 Albert van den Berg, 4 AJ Venter (c), 3 Brent Moyle, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Deon Carstens.
15 Johan Roets, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JP Nel, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Heini Adams, 8 Jacques Cronje, 7 Johan Wasserman, 6 Danie Rossouw, 5 Francois van Schouwenburg, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Andries Human, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Jaco Engels