Sharks and Bulls in rugby horror show
The home side seems to have dispensed with entertainment
History will say the Bulls earned a Super Rugby double against the Sharks with a win at Kings Park. But how it was earned was the least memorable part.
With the scores at 16-all in the 78th minute, the Bulls earned a scrum penalty that Handre Pollard converted to push the Bulls to second in the SA conference.
But it was a forgettable game in every respect. The first half was an anaemic horror show.
The heat and humidity may have been a factor but the Sharks have dispensed with entertainment.
The hosts were understandably tense for this game after the shellacking they received in the corresponding fixture on March 9.
However, they also lacked the industry that helped them prevail against the Rebels last week.
However, the caution with which the sides approached the game did the agitated crowd no good.
The Bulls; wounded after last week's unexpected home hammering against the Chiefs, tightened up defensively.
There were no tries and the three penalties from Pollard (two) and Robert du Preez (one) separated the teams.
But a moment of officiating controversy in the eighth minute was the highlight of the first half.
Louis Schreuder's box kick didn't seem to have made contact with the touchline in real time and from Pollard's inability to collect the kick, Aphelele Fassi got hold of the ball and passed to Daniel du Preez, who then scored.
Referee Mike Fraser referred the matter to the television match official, Christie du Preez, who ruled that the ball had gone into touch.
Barring that and Lukhanyo Am displaying the subtleties of outside-centre play his Bulls counterpart Jesse Kriel struggled to conjure up, there was nothing else to write home about, with the Sharks not able to convert their territorial dominance into something more tangible on the scoreboard.
The Bulls were content to soak up the pressure; probably a mental note of redeeming themselves after being cut up like hot bread repeatedly by the Chiefs.
The Sharks made their second-half intentions clear when they scored a minute after the restart through Daniel du Preez.
The game's first try had its roots in Bulls fullback Divan Rossouw not collecting a kick, from where the Sharks for once accurately executed their offloading game.
The Bulls though bounced back in the 52nd minute from Kriel after Robert du Preez was run over by Bulls inside centre Burger Odendaal from first-phase ball from a scrum.
The offload found Kriel running an excellent line into space and scoring his 19th Super Rugby try.
The eventful second half took another twist when the opposing hookers in Akker van der Merwe and Schalk Brits were sent off for an off-the-ball brawl in the 57th minute. Cohesion continued to evade the teams but Andre Esterhuizen's 72nd-minute try that was set-up by Am's incision levelled the scores.
Robert du Preez, who had a forgettable game like most of the other players, missed the crucial conversion.
The scrum penalty that Pollard converted not only put into perspective Robert du Preez's off-day with the boot with seven points missed, but the general inaccuracies of the teams despite the Bulls getting the four points.
Bulls (6) 19
Sharks - Tries: Daniel du Preez; Andre Esterhuizen Penalties: Robert du Preez (2).
Bulls: Try: Jesse Kriel; Conversion: Handre Pollard; Penalties: Pollard (4)