Bulls best in SA after beating Sharks, go into playoffs with home advantage

Bulls coach Jake White. Picture: Phill Magakoe / AFP

Bulls coach Jake White. Picture: Phill Magakoe / AFP

Published Jun 1, 2024


Bulls secured a top-two finish in the United Rugby Championship following a 26-14 win over Sharks at Kings Park in Durban.

The hosts were missing injured Springboks Lukhanyo Am and Eben Etzebeth, among others, and were playing just eight days after lifting the European Challenge Cup in London, but were competitive to the end.

Akker van der Merwe crossed twice for the Bulls, the second of his tries making a top-of-the-table finish possible.

An ambitious long lineout failed to hit its intended target yet still fell kindly for Siya Masuku to collect and flop over the line as the Sharks drew first blood, the player converting his own try.

Jake White’s Bulls were playing with greater freedom, however, with Embrose Papier and Willie le Roux pulling the strings and their work helped to set up their opening try for David Kriel.

The finish for the visitors' next try was less eye-catching as Johan Grobbelaar concluded a maul try, with Johan Goosen adding the extras, but there was plenty to admire in the play leading to the lineout as Le Roux and Kurt-Lee Arendse burst into open space.

The Sharks trailed 12-7 at halftime and they had to scramble furiously to keep out a third Bulls try shortly after the interval with Aphelele Fassi chasing down Canan Moodie.

Flanker Vincent Tshituka was sent to the sin-bin for slowing the ball down, inviting more pressure on to the Sharks, and eventually they cracked with van der Merwe scoring from a pick and go, with Goosen again converting.

The hosts were showing admirable resilience given their URC season was over after the game and in the third quarter they began shifting through the gears with Dylan Richardson going over and Masuku landing the conversion.

The Bulls were hindered by their high number of handling errors but with three minutes remaining they claimed the bonus point, van der Merwe crossing after impressive build-up play from his side, Chris Smith this time kicking the two additional points.


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