Bulls top table after romping to victory over Sharks

Johannesburg (AFP) –


Stedman Gans and Marco van Staden scored two tries each as the Bulls replaced the Cheetahs as South African Super Rugby Unlocked leaders by trouncing the Sharks 41-14 in Pretoria Saturday.

Marco Jansen van Vuren and Embrose Papier were the other try scorers for the winners, who overcame a tentative start to lead 17-9 by half-time at Loftus Versfeld stadium.

It was one-way traffic toward the Sharks tryline in the second half with the Bulls scoring four tries and the Sharks managing just one from Dylan Richardson.

The rest of the points came from the fly-halves with Morne Steyn kicking four conversions and a penalty for the Bulls and Curwin Bosch three penalties for the Sharks.

Outscoring the Sharks by six tries to one earned the Bulls a bonus point and lifted them to 10 points, one more than the Cheetahs, with the Stormers third on eight points.

Both teams sprinted off the field when the final whistle sounded to escape torrential rain while an electrical storm moved close to the stadium.

"It was a great result after losing to the Cheetahs last weekend," said Springbok World Cup winner and Bulls skipper and back-row forward Duane Vermeulen.

"We picked up some faults in our previous performance and corrected them, leading to a much improved display against the Sharks.

"While I appreciate being voted the man of the match tonight, rugby is all about teamwork and that is what brought about this victory.

"Next weekend we are at home to the Stormers, a team with a very different style to the Sharks, and we need to study them closely."

Another World Cup winner in Japan last year, Sharks skipper and centre Lukhanyo Am, said: "Poor discipline cost us dearly, we spent too much time in our half, and the lineouts were a problem area."

Another area where the Sharks struggled was the scrums, with a bright start in which they won two penalties quickly fading, especially after Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane came off the bench for the Bulls.

Sharks led twice through Bosch penalties before the first Gans try on 28 minutes gave the Bulls a lead they never looked like surrendering.

The result emphasised the current superiority of the Bulls over the Sharks as the Pretoria outfit won a pre-season warm-up between the franchises 49-28 at Loftus last month.

Meanwhile, six Lions players tested positive for coronavirus this week, forcing the postponement of their home match against the Cheetahs in Johannesburg.

On Friday, the Stormers scored 28 unanswered points in the final 19 minutes to edge the Griquas 42-37 in northeastern city Mbombela.

Victory came at a cost for the Cape Town team, though, as the Springboks World Cup captain, flanker Siya Kolisi, retired with a suspected hamstring injury during the first half.