Sharks slip-sliding to victory
CURRIE CUP REPORT: The Sharks cemented top spot on the standings and home ground advantage in the play-offs.
It may not have been pretty, but in monsoon-like conditions, the home team secured a scrappy 18-5 win over the Blue Bulls in their Round 11 outing.
The win - by two tries to one - puts the Sharks 13 points clear at the top with just three rounds remaining.
It is their ninth consecutive win of the season.
The extraordinary testing conditions mean there was very little chance of any constructive play.
The Sharks got off to a perfect start, as Sibusiso Nkosi scored the opening try inside three minutes - the tournament's leading try-scorer running onto the perfect cross kick from Curwin Bosch.
The try had come off a Bulls mistake and there would be plenty more - from both sides - as the wet ball played havoc with the players.
The second try went the way of Keegan Daniel, who barged his way over the tryline through two defenders - this after the Blue Bulls had been penalised for a dangerous neck roll clean-out. From the resultant penalty, kicked to touch, the ball was recycled through the phases with good continuity - setting up the try. Bosch's conversion took the Sharks into a 12-nil lead as the game hit the end of the first quarter.
The home team showed a real sense of urgency and put real pressure on a Blue Bulls side that tried to play, but battled to handle the pressure they were under.
While the Sharks dominated possession and territory, the visitors certainly had chances - but simply couldn't put enough phases together on attack.
After dominating in the opening quarter, the Sharks found more resistance from the Blue Bulls.
The sides went into the half-time break with the Sharks still leading 12-nil.
Given the weather conditions, rain falling harder and harder as the game went on, it was always going to be a match won through the platform set by forwards.
With Curwin Bosch's educated and highly-skilled boot keeping the Bulls pinned back in their half, the visitors always found themselves on the back foot.
With half an hour of play remaining, the Blue Bulls sent on a rash of replacements and immediately gained a return with a try to lock Aston Fortuin. Handré Pollard failed to convert and the Bulls were seven points behind.
Moments later Curwin Bosch scored the first penalty of the game to stretch the lead to 10 points.
Out of nowhere, Bosch kicked a drop-goal to extend the lead to 13 points.
It was something of a comedy of errors in the dying minutes.
Man of the match: All the players deserve credit for their endeavour in some desperately poor, monsoon-like conditions. Two players stood out above the rest. Sharks flank Keegan Daniel, who made a nuisance of himself at the breakdown and in the line-outs. Also, there was Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch, who produced amazing skills in the testing conditions - winning our award.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Nkosi, Daniel
For the Blue Bulls:
Sharks: 15 Garth April, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Michael Classens, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Jean Droste, 19 Lubabalo Mtembu, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Tristan Blewett, 22 Rhyno Smith.
Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Burger Odendaal (captain), 12 John Jackson, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Jano Venter, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Matthys Basson, 18 Tim Agaba, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers.
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Ruhan Meiring, Rodney Boneparte
TMO: Christie du Preez