The final Super Rugby match of Round 9 this weekend is in Durban, South Africa
The Sharks have returned from a tour of New Zealand where they impressed but also fell short, at the death last week.
The Sharks have played the Bulls 26 times in Super Rugby, winning nine matches and losing 15. There have been two draws between the sides.
- The Bulls are undefeated in their last five games against the Sharks (W4, D1), their longest ever run without a loss to them.
- The Sharks have lost their last two home games against South African opposition, the last time they lost more was a three-game drought from 2004 to 2006.
- The Bulls have won only one of their last 10 games away from home; however, that win came against the Sharks in Round 15 last season.
- The Sharks have stolen 1.4 lineouts per game this season, more than any other team in the competition.
- Handre Pollard has made 86 kicks in general play this season, the second-most of any player in the competition behind Elton Jantjies (119).
Late team news: Beast Mtawarira has pulled out of the match. In comes, Juan Schoeman at loosehead and Mzamo Majola comes onto the bench.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
1.00: PEEEEP! We are underway in Durban between two of South African rugby’s heavyweights.
2.00: Adriaan Strauss makes his record 150th Super Rugby appearance.
3.00: PENALTY! Lood de Jager is pinged for not rolling away at the ruck. Robert du Preez opens his account. 3-0
4.00: The Bulls have momentum inside the Sharks’ 22 and look to have scored through Warrick Gelant, but the TMO is looking for “conclusive evidence” that the fullback was in front of Handre Pollard’s chip-kick.
5.00: TRY! Gelant is in for his eighth Super Rugby try, four of which have come against the Sharks. 3-5
6.00: CONVERSION! Pollard adds the simple kick. 3-7
9.00: TRY! Gelant at the double. The Bulls backs and forwards linked superbly in the build-up. The 22-year-old fullback saw space in behind the Sharks’ lines, grubbered and collected his kick to score. 3-12
10.00: CONVERSION! Pollard adds another two. 3-14
12.00: The Bulls are all over the home team, especially in finding space in the wide channels.
15.00: The Sharks have managed to escape a few sticky situations after being under the pump. The Bulls have enjoyed more than 90 percent possession, already.
17.00: Strauss tackles Louis Schreuder, but is caught offsides. Du Preez kicks to the corner.
18.00: Lodewyk de Jager plays a man in the air and is also penalised. The sharks go for another driving maul.
20.00: Marco van Staden wins the penalty at the breakdown. He looked to be kneeling on a Sharks player and seems lucky to be awarded the penalty. Pollard clears.
21.00: The Bulls are pinged for a side entry; they are leaking pens. Ruan Botha wants the points (before it is too late).
22.00: MISS! Oh boy! Du Preez misses a sitter from right in front. 3-14
24.00: Trevor Nyakane wins the penalty at the breakdown, beating two Sharks for the ball. Pollard kicks to the corner.
25.00: TRY! Adriaan Strauss is over for his fourth try of the season from a lineout and driving maul. Far too easy. 3-19
26.00: CONVERSION! Pollard hits the touchline kick. 3-21
28.00: Gelant’s excellent kick is chased by the fullback. Curwin Bosch gets back but is tackled into touch by his opposite number. Bulls have another 5-metre lineout. I wonder what they will do?
28.00: Hold on! We are checking for possible foul play on Sbu Nkosi by Divan Rossouw. TMO Marius Jonker is over-ruled by Egon Seconds, who makes the right call.
30.00: Juan Schoeman is caught for a side entry. Another 5m lineout to the Bulls.
31.00: Big defence by the Sharks. Thomas du Toit wins the turnover and the Sharks clear.
32.00: A crazy series of plays ends with Lwazi Mvovo running into a blue wall. The Sharks get awarded a penalty. Du Preez kicks to the corner. It’s helter-skelter at a slippery Kings Park.
34.00: Nyakane is caught offsides. The sharks are camped inside the visitor’s 22 – they need to come away with some points, preferably seven.
36.00: Several phases of pick and drives ends badly for the Sharks, who loses the ball forward trying to offload in the tackle. The Bulls’ defending around the rucks has been superb.
38.00: Strauss is disappointed with himself for conceding another penalty.
39.00: TRY! Andre Esterhuizen powers over Pollard sucks in three defenders, but his leg-drive, coupled with the help of his team-mates, helped the centre over the goal-line. 8-21
40.00: CONVERSION! Du Preez can’t miss from there. 10-21
41.00: Thembelani Bholi is pinged for a side entry, allowing a last attacking chance for the home team. However, the ball is not kicked out by Rob du Preez.
42.00: The balls is lost forward by Jonny Kotze, who then grubbers it into touch.
The half-time score was Sharks 10 Bulls 21
41.00: PEEEEP! We are back underway at a wet Kings Park.
43.00: The sharks are not out of this game, they must just keep the ball in hand and be patient without too many handling errors. It is, however, easier said than done because it is bucketing down in Durban.
45.00: A big scrum by the Pretoria side sees them awarded a penalty. Pollard kicks to the Sharks’ 22.
46.00: Pollard’s high cross-kick is lost forward, but they had a penalty advantage. The flyhalf kicks to the corner.
47.00: PENALTY TRY! The referee has seen enough and awards the penalty try for multiple infringements in the red zone. 10-28
48.00: YELLOW CARD! Thomas du Toit is sent to the sin-bin.
50.00: Referee Egon Seconds is taken out by Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl.
54.00: The game has turned into an arm-wrestle because of the heavy rain.
56.00: Jean-Luc du Preez, Daniel du Preez and Robert du Preez become the first three brothers to play in a South African Super Rugby fixture.
57.00: Their father is also the team’s coach, making it an even more incredible achievement in the sport. Congratulations!
60.00: The home side are trying to play, although being 18 points down with less than 20 minutes to play, will make you throw caution to the wind.
61.00: The bulls have changed their game plan to suit the conditions, kicking for territory and playing the percentages. John Mitchell has them thinking – finally.
64.00: When both teams try to play with width and flair, the ball is lost forward or goes into touch; points will – and are – at a premium in this weather.
66.00: Both sides ringing the changes; fresh legs are needed because the ground is heavy underfoot and tired legs and minds, lead to mistakes that cost matches.
70.00: Lood de Jager has made 16 tackles, seven more than Trevor Nyakane in second place: Wow!
72.00: Big scrum by the Sharks, who won the penalty. They opt for another scrum.
73.00: Pollard has controlled the game superbly today, making the right decisions in the wet and when it was dryer, earlier on.
77.00: TRY! Gelant has a hat-trick, chasing his kick and beating the cover defenders to the ball. 10-33
78.00: CONVERSION! Manie Libbok kicks the conversion and gets his Super rugby account underway. 10-35
80.00: TRY! Jonny Kotze finishes off the Sharks. He had all the time in the world, waltzing in for the score. 10-40
81.00: MISS! Libbok can’t add the extras but it is inconsequential. 10-40
The final score: Sharks 10 (10) Bulls 40 (21)
Tries – Esterhuizen
Pen – R. du Preez
Con – R. du Preez
Cards – Du Toit (Yellow, 48′)
Tries – Gelant (3), Strauss, Penalty Try, Kotze
Con – Pollard (3), Libbok
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant Ref 1: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Marius Jonker
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Daniel du Preez, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Kobus van Wyk.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Johnny Kötze, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 André Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Duncan Matthews.