Reserve scrumhalf Charl McLeod turned on the magic to inspire a bonus point win for the Sharks in Durban.
McLeod’s second half introduction proved decisive with the match tied up at 13-all.
Everything McLeod touched turned into points and the Sharks scored four tries in winning 34-18 against the hapless Bulls.
The hosts led 13-10 at halftime.
The Bulls showed good commitment for an hour but were blown away with a two try burst, inspired by McLeod, whose 30 minute cameo won him the man of the match award.
The Sharks head the Currie Cup log after four rounds.
Their only defeat was at home to Friquas in the first round.
Sharks – Tries: SP Marais, Heimar Williams, Charl McLeod. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (4). Penalties: Zeilinga (2).
Blue Bulls – Tries: Akona Ndungane (2). Conversion: Handré Pollard. Penalties: Pollard (2).
Sharks – 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Louis Ludik, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jacques Botes (c), 7 Jean Deysel, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Rayno Gerber, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Butch James, 22 Jaco van Tonder.
Blue Bulls – 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Ulrich Beyers, 11 Akona Ndungane, 10 Handrè Pollard, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Jono Ross (c), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Morné Mellett.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Tiaan Schoeman, 22 Clayton Blommetjies.
Run of play commentary
80 Sharks 34-18 Blue Bulls. It’s been another long night for the Bulls. While not the hammering that they received last week, they were comprehensively outplayed in the second half, with the Sharks replacements having a big impact on the match.
80 McLeod passes to James from the base and the replacement 10 boots it into touch to bring the game to an end.
79 The Bulls look to get the drive going but the ball is knocked forward. That’s been the story of the Bulls’ day.
78 A solid maul from the line-out sets the Bulls in motion as they build into the Sharks half but they’re attack slows and Kaplan brings them back for a penalty which Pollard puts into touch inside the Sharks 22.
77 Butch James is on the field and he gets the game back underway. Pollard clears and Marais does well to collect up against the touchline but as he breaks down the line his attempted chip ahead slices off his boot and into touch.
75 TRY, BULLS, NDUNGANE 34-18. Much better from the Bulls this time as they keep it simple at the line-out and then bash it up with the forwards, barraging their way into the 22. They’re just five short and the ball is spread wide to the near side where there is an extra man and Akona Ndungane picks up his second.
74 Another line-out steal from the Sharks (who are still down to 14) and Mvovo clears. Again! Wentzel has really come to the fore as he snaps another Bulls line-out and this time the Sharks are able to clear to their 10m line.
73 Messy from a Sharks line-out and they’re blown for off-side as the ball ping pongs around between players. The Bulls have a line-out 10 out from the Sharks line.
71 CONVERSION, SHARKS, ZEILINGA 34-13. Zeilinga can certainly kick as he finds the target once more from out wide.
70 TRY, SHARKS, WENTZEL 32-13. Bonus point try! McLeod puts in the box kick from the scrum and Mastriet collects but he’s under heavy pressure and throws the ball inside where Williams intercepts for the Sharks. The home side have men aplenty as they carry it up before working it through the hands where a flying Wentzel dives over for the score!
68 After a few scrum resets the Bulls are penalised for going in at the angle and the Sharks get a free kick. The throw is the Bulls’ as a result but again it’s not straight from Maku and the Sharks get the scrum once more. It’s a really tough call.
67 The Sharks compete well and Wentzel grabs it, with Daniel clearing but the Sharks are still inside their 22. Bandise Maku’s throw is not straight this time and the Sharks have the scrum.
65 Cooper’s throw into the line-out has been ruled skew and the Bulls have a scrum which turns into a penalty. It gets worse for the Sharks as Chadwick is adjudged to have given away his third penalty at scrum time and he’s shown a yellow card.
64 Engelbrecht has been like a raging bull since he came on and he continues to run strongly! The Bulls do well but a knock on from Akona Ndungane hands the Sharks possession. They run it for a few phases before Zeilinga clears it. Snyman returns the compliment and finds a good touch 10 out from the Sharks line.
46 Engelbrecht claims an up and under from van Tonder and surges forward. Good work from Visser as the Bulls attack with great pace. They switch to the pick and drive and it’s executed to great effect. Hattingh is held up and Mbonambi gets over but with two movements so Kaplan takes them back for an off-side call against the Sharks.
62 CONVERSION, SHARKS, ZEILINGA 27-13. From out wide Zeilinga does the business.
61 TRY, SHARKS, MCLEOD 25-13. McLeod is rewarded for his efforts with a five-pointer! Botes picks up and breaks off the back of the scrum, he passes it on to McLeod who forces his way over.
60 Visser kicks the ball out on the full after the ball had bounced off him and into the 22 so the Sharks have an attacking line-out. Deysel bashes it up, breaking through two tackles. Good work from Marais and Botes as the Sharks get closer. Engelbrecht is at it again though as he nabs another turnover. Great work from the replacement scrum-half Charl McLeod as he charges down an attempted clearance from Pollard.
56 CONVERSION, SHARKS, ZEILINGA 20-13. Zeilinga adds the extras.
55 TRY, SHARKS, WILLIAMS 18-13. Great work from the Sharks as they spread the ball down the blindside to Daniel on the far touchline who speeds away, he beats one tackle, holds off another before passing inside to Williams who goes over.
53 Ludik clears down to Visser who calls the mark before hammering the ball into the Sharks half. There is an exchange of kicks and this time it’s Pollard who calls the mark for the Bulls.
52 The Sharks defence is strong at the line-out and the Bulls are bundled into touch.
51 Engelbrecht is really having a big impact as he gets his side a penalty by forcing Botes to hold on in the tackle. Pollard sets up a line-out on halfway.
50 PENALTY, BULLS, POLLARD 13-13. No mistake from Pollard this time.
49 Kyle Cooper, Rayno Gerber and Edwin Hewitt come on to boost the Sharks pack but the immediate effect is not a good one as they concede a penalty from the scrum.
48 Pollard’s effort comes off the post and it’s the Bulls who are quickest to react and grab the loose ball. The Sharks turn it over though and clear. Mastriet runs it back at them and he breaks into the Sharks half. Hattingh breaks through the middle, he’s been really strong today! Disappointing for Snyman as play is halted by a knock on at the base from the scrum-half.
43 A nice break from Ludik gets the Sharks moving but again poor basics lets the home side down as a sloppy pass is knocked on by Botes.
42 Jacques Engelbrecht is on for Ross who took a knock early in the first half and the flank makes his presence felt early on as he bulldozers past two players. There is a knock on from Beyers though and the Sharks have a scrum just on their side of halfway.
41 Pollard gets the second half underway.
40 Sharks 13-10 Blue Bulls. Both teams will feel they could have made more of opportunities that came their way, but the Sharks in particular haven’t made the most of their chances. Time will tell if they’re made to pay.
40 PENALTY, SHARKS, ZEILINGA 13-10. The Sharks head into the shed with the lead as Zeilinga finds the target.
40 Pollard clears under pressure and can only find the 22. Effective pick and goes from Burden and Deysel after the line-out. The Bulls’ counter drive is good but it’s illegal and the Sharks have a penalty on the hooter. Referee Kaplan has a word with Ulrich Beyers who has a bit too much to say for Kaplan’s liking.
39 Reinach snipes from the scrum and does well, breaking to within five from the line. A knock forward from Burden ends the move though.
37 Visser knocks on from the restart and the Sharks have a chance to attack with the half nearly done.
36 PENALTY, BULLS, POLLARD 10-10. A sweet strike from Pollard from near in front and we’re level at 10-all
35 The Bulls have a line-out just inside their own half. Snyman puts in the box kick and Mastriet does enough to ensure the ball comes back on the Bulls half. The Bulls bash it up through seven phases before they go to a penalty for off-side from the Sharks.
32 The Bulls are now back to 15 as they take the line-out on halfway. Snyman kicks over the top and Mvovo collects and returns the kick but he’s taken by the shoulder of Willemse and the Sharks are awarded a penalty where the ball landed, about five inside the Bulls’ half. Replays suggest that the Bulls man is perhaps a touch lucky not to have gotten a yellow. The penalty attempt from Zeilinga is just short though.
30 Deysle bashes the ball up the middle and Reinach spots a gap, off-loading to Burden. The Sharks work it up close, going through the phases before it’s given to the backs and Ndungane slices through but there is a suspicion of obstruction and those prove to be correct with Ludik’s dummy run taking out Waylon Murray.
27 The Bulls win a penalty from the scrum, with Chadwick the man penalised. Ross collects at the back of the resulting line-out but the Sharks rip away possession. An exchange of up and unders ends favourably for the Bulls as Akona Ndungane collects in the Sharks 22 but again the home side are able to execute a turnover at ruck time, with Ludik doing the business this time.
24 Burden can’t hook the ball back but the Sharks are still able to retain possession from the scrum. Marais is brought into the line but he’s quickly cut down. Ludik does well to grab possession but he loses the ball in the tackle.
22 The Sharks spread it wide but Mastriet gets a hand to the ball as he tries to execute an intercept and the Sharks have a scrum just on the Bulls side of the visitor’s 10m line.
21 Good defence out wide from the Sharks so the Bulls bring it back, with Hattingh busting up the middle. The ball goes back to Pollard who puts over a great drop. The assistant referee has a report though and Frik Kirsten has been called up for an illegal tackle and his sent to the sin bin.
20 The Bulls look to bash it up but Ross knocks on and the Sharks look to break out. Ndungane runs out of space out wide and tries to find Marais on his inside but the ball doesn’t go to hand and the Bulls have a line-out. Some rather aimless kicking ends with a poor kick from Odwa Ndungane that goes over the Bulls’ deadball line and we go back for a scrum just inside the Sharks half.
17 Centre Heimar Williams is brought into the line with good effect but Burden knocks on and the Bulls clear. The Sharks look to run it out of their own half, but a forward pass from Odwa Ndungane sees the Bulls awarded a try just over the Sharks’ 10m line.
15 The Sharks are doing well to grab possession at the breakdown and Reinach takes advantage, finding space behind the Bulls defence but Pollard puts in a great clearance to take play back into the Sharks half. Willemse again infringes at the line-out, he’s off-side this time, and Zeilinga sets up the line-out on the Bulls 22.
13 PENALTY, SHARKS, ZEILINGA 10-7. The Sharks number 10 adds three more to the total.
13 A luck escape for Zeilinga as he knocks on in midfield but they go back for taking the jumore out in the air. It’s a tough call against Paul Willemse.
12 Zeilinga doesn’t make much ground with the clearance from the restart and the Bulls attack. Botes gets his second turnover of the match at this early stage and Zeilinga finds space at the back. The Bulls clear and the Sharks take the line-out quickly. After five phases Zeilinga goes to the boot once more with a little chip over the top but Akona Ndungae is well positioned. The two teams exchange kicks with Reinach finding space at the back after Visser didn’t find touch. Mastriet finds touch just short of the Bulls’ 10m line.
8 CONVERSION, ZEILINGA 7-7. From the touchline Zeilinga makes no mistake.
7 TRY, SHARKS, MARAIS 5-7. It’s end to end stuff as the Sharks hit back. The hosts were attacking but going nowhere, Zeilinga went to the boot to gain some territory and it works a treat as Marais charges down Visser’s attempted clearance and he collects and goes over for the five-pointer.
5 CONVERSION, BULLS, POLLARD. Pollard notches up his first points in Currie Cup rugby.
5 TRY, BULLS, NDUNGANE 5-0. Hatttingh collects the line-out on the Bulls 22. Super driving maul from the Bulls as they surge into Sharks territory. They flick the ball down the short side and Sampie Mastriet is put into space by a great flat pass from Pollard. The winger passes inside to Jurgen Visser who in turn puts Akona Ndungane into space and he trots over for the score.
3 The Bulls look strong from the outset, with backs and forwards combining well to take play into the Sharks’ half. The ball is turned over though, with Botes getting the steal and Zeilinga puts in a good kick to push the Bulls back into their 22. Chadwick pinches it from the Bulls in the ruck but Reinach knocks it on as a tailing boot tips the ball as he looks to pass. From the scrum in the Bulls 22, the visitors are awarded a penalty for collapsing.
0 Fred Zeilinga gets the game underway.
0 The Sharks have made a handful of changes to the team that beat the Cheetahs last time out. Among the backs, Cobus Reinach comes in at scrum-half for his first start of the campaign while Odwa Ndungane has shaken off a hamstring niggle to return on the wing. In the pack, Craig Burden replaces Kyle Cooper at hooker while Peet Marais takes over from Edwin Hewitt in the second row. For the Bulls, the biggest change sees South Africa U20 fly-half Handr? Pollard get his first start at Currie Cup level.
0 Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the Currie Cup clash between the Sharks and the Blue Bulls from Durban.