Despite the home side dominating both the attacking and defending stats, it was Vodacom Bulls skipper Handre Pollard who kicked the winning points in Durban.
In an error-infused, mostly tepid – but tough – derby between the Sharks and Bulls at Kings Park, the visitors eventually eked out a close-fought 19-16 win on Saturday afternoon.
Perhaps fittingly, the game-winning penalty was earned by a 7-man Bulls pack that completely decimated an 8-man Sharks scrum – the visitors having opted to put bulldozer centre Andre Esterhuizen on the flank after both hookers had been red carded. It was the third scrum penalty against the Sharks on the day.
Fittingly, also, as Pollard’s crucial penalty was the difference between the two SA teams. A win that saw the Bulls complete a “derby-double” over their coastal rivals following the win earlier in the month at Loftus Versfeld.
It completed a perfect day off the tee for the Bok pivot, this while Robert du Preez could only manage a 40% kick success rate. Game over for the banana boys!
Dan du Preez and Andre Esterhuizen were the try scorers for the home team while Jesse Kriel dotted down for the Bulls.
With this victory, the Bulls moved to 17 log points, one point behind conference leaders, the Lions. The Sharks are a further two log points adrift.
The match was a typically tough South African derby, with the home team enjoying most of the territory (56%) and possession (53%), especially in the first half.
They also dominated the carry, offload, tackle break, passes made, rucks and maul stats. Yet despite those advantages, the Durbanites still found themselves trailing 3-6 at the break following an exchange of penalties between Du Preez and Pollard.
The home side conceded 15 turnovers to the 9 of the Bulls, and coughed up the ball incessantly via 18 handling errors – five more than the visitors. Throw in the poor kicking off the tee, and one could fairly asses it to be a game that got away from the Sharks, rather than a game won by the Bulls.
A look at the match stats from Kings Park:
Points: SHA 16-19 BUL
Tries: SHA 2-1 BUL
Penalty goals: SHA 2-4 BUL
Goal kicking: SHA 40% – 100% BUL
Possession: SHA 53% – 47% BUL
Territory: SHA 56% – 44% BUL
Ball in play: 32 minutes
Ball Carries: SHA 108-76 BUL
Metres run: SHA 656-412 BUL
Metres per carry: SHA 6-5.4 BUL
Line breaks: SHA 7-2 BUL
Tackle breaks: SHA 2-1 BUL
Passes: SHA 154-92 BUL
Good Passes: SHA 139-82 BUL
Offloads: SHA 8-6 BUL
Rucks won: SHA 78-57 BUL
Mauls won: SHA 5-4 BUL
Turnovers conceded: SHA 15-9 BUL
Tackles made: SHA 101-137 BUL
Tackles missed: SHA 6-11 BUL
Tackle success: SHA 95% – 93% BUL
Dominant tackles: SHA 6-3 BUL
Tackle turnover: SHA 5-1 BUL
Turnovers won: SHA 1-3 BUL
Kicks from hand: SHA 20-20 BUL
Metres kicked: SHA 526-588 BUL
Metres per kick: SHA 26.3-29.4 BUL
Handling errors: SHA 18-13 BUL
Penalties conceded: SHA 8 (3 from scrum) – 11 BUL
Yellow cards: SHA 0-0 BUL
Red cards: SHA 1-1 BUL
First phase stats:
Lineouts won: SHA 11-10 BUL
Lineouts stolen: SHA 0-1 BUL
Scrums won: SHA 6-7 BUL
Scrums lost: SHA 0-1 BUL