A clinical and disciplined performance from the Vodacom Bulls saw them outplay the Sharks 37-14 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
On 13 log points, the Bulls now top the South African Conference, and find themselves second overall on the combined log behind unbeaten defending champions, the Crusaders.
New signings Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Brits were again in outstanding form, providing the home side with a solid attacking platform. As such, skipper and pivot Handre Pollard again controlled the game superbly, notching up 22 points with the boot as the home side continued with their policy of taking all points on offer.
Early second-half tries from Jeremy Ward (cited post-match for an alleged tip tackle in the 13th minute) and Dan du Preez gave the Durban side hope after the restart, but they were never really in this game – despite dominating both the possession and territory stats.
They also notched up more carries, metres run and passes than the Bulls.
But it was an error-strewn affair for the Sharks, with a miscue on one in every 5 carries for a total of 22 handling errors. And at 5.7m per carry, they were well down on the home side, which speaks to their ineffectiveness in making use of the possession dominance they enjoyed, as do the 18 turnovers they conceded!
On the other side of the field, the home side made far fewer carries, and were happy to make many more tackles (151 compared to 86 from the Sharks).
Instead, they dominated the kicking stats to control the game. Carving off 855 metres from 26 kicks – 6 more than the visitors – the Bulls made 7 more metres per kick in a strategy aimed at finding grass rather than the touchline, thus forcing the Sharks into making some big decisions deep in their half.
A look at the match stats from Loftus:
Points: BUL 37-14 SHA
Tries: BUL 3-2 SHA
Penalty goals: BUL 5-0 SHA
Goal kicking %: BUL 88% – 100% SHA
Possession: BUL 47% – 53% SHA
Territory: BUL 42% – 58% SHA
Ball in play: 31 minutes
Ball Carries: BUL 87-113 SHA
Metres run: BUL 570-641 SHA
Metres per carry: BUL 7-5.7 SHA
Line breaks: BUL 6-1 SHA
Tackle breaks: BUL 4-12 SHA
Passes: BUL 104-131 SHA
Good Passes: BUL 88-111 SHA
Offloads: BUL 10-13 SHA
Rucks won: BUL 51-82 SHA
Rucks lost: BUL 2-3 SHA
Turnovers conceded: BUL 11-18 SHA
Tackles made: BUL 151-86 SHA
Tackles missed: BUL 28-15 SHA
Tackle success: BUL 86% – 87% SHA
Tackle turnover: BUL 6-2 SHA
Dominant tackles: BUL 10-13 SHA
Turnovers won: BUL 2-3 SHA
Kicks from hand: BUL 26-20 SHA
Metres kicked: BUL 855-512 SHA
Metres per kick: BUL 33-26 SHA
Handling errors: BUL 14-22 SHA
Error rate (per carry): BUL 6.2-5.1 SHA
Penalties conceded: BUL 2-7 SHA
Yellow cards: BUL 0-0 SHA
First phase stats:
Lineouts won: BUL 9-15 SHA
Lineouts stolen: BUL 0-1 SHA
Scrums won: BUL 10-2 SHA
Scrums lost: BUL 1-1 SHA
Own kickoff won: BUL 0-0 SHA
Own kickoff lost: BUL 3-9 SHA