Rugby World Cup winner Sbu Nkosi and debutant scrumhalf Sanele
Nohamba scored crucial tries to give the Sharks a 23-15 win over the Bulls in
their opening match of the 2020 Super Rugby season.
Rugby World Cup winner Sbu Nkosi and debutant scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba scored crucial tries to give the Sharks a 23-15 win over the Bulls in their opening match of the 2020 Super Rugby season.
The two tries proved to be the difference between the sides in a match that was dominated by a territorial, kicking battle between Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch and Bulls and Springbok veteran Morne Steyn.
There were hints of early season rustiness from both sides throughout the match with a number of handling errors throughout the game. The mistakes from both sides added intrigue to the clash, as both team’s exciting outside backs launched pulsating attacks over the 80 minutes.
Steyn marked his return to Super Rugby with a mercurial kicking performance that nearly won the match for his side, if not for the outstanding finishes from Nkosi and Nohamba at crucial points in the game.
The match was not a free-flowing affair but the crowds at Kings Park were entertained by a see-saw match that kept people on the edge of their seats until the 79th minute.
The Bulls had the advantage off the kick-off as the Sharks coughed up possession from a knock-on. After a few phases, the visitors were awarded a penalty and Morne Steyn wasted no time slotting his first Super Rugby points since 2013.
No less than five minutes later, Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch had an opportunity to level the scores with a straight-forward penalty shot in front of the posts. The flyhalf nailed the three-pointer to draw his side even with the Bulls at 3-all.
The Sharks were awarded another penalty on the 15th minute mark for a breakdown infringement by the Bulls. Skipper Lukhanyo Am pointed to the posts once again and Bosch nailed his second penalty of the night to give the Sharks a 6-3 lead.
The Bulls were handed a penalty inside the Sharks half as the hosts scrambled on defence after visitors launched an attack from a scrum deep inside their own half.
Steyn stepped up to his kicking tee and slotted his second penalty of the night to level the scores once again.
The Springbok and Bulls veteran then added a drop goal to his tally for the night after the Bulls spent a considerable amount of time camped in the Sharks’ 22. The successful kick gave the Bulls a 9-6 lead as the teams went into the half time break.
The Sharks got things rolling in the second half by scoring the first try of the match from a foray into the Bulls half. Having moved the ball wide from an attacking lineout, the ball was shifted out to Bosch who nailed a pinpoint crosskick for the corner flag.
Springbok wing Sbu Nkosi was on hand to grab the ball just before it bounced over the dead ball line and dotted it down for a sensational try. Bosch slotted the touchline conversion to give the hosts a 13-9 lead.
After a livewire five minutes of play the Sharks were awarded a penalty inside the Bulls half after captain Burger Odendaal was blown up for an infringement at a ruck. Bosch made no mistake with the important kick, giving the Durban outfit a 16-9 lead.
The Bulls finally got a chance to hit back after a ten minute period of loose, exciting play from both sides. The Sharks conceded a scrum penalty inside their half and Steyn pointed towards the posts. The Bulls flyhalf nudged the ball through the posts to reduce the Sharks lead to 16-12.
After another tense ten-minute spell where possession and territory shifted between the sides, the Bulls were awarded another penalty on the halfway mark. Reserve hooker Craig Burden was penalised for a late hit on Steyn. The flyhalf’s attempt at goal was well short of the mark, letting the Sharks off the hook late in the game.
Five minutes before full time the Sharks were blown up for creeping offside in open play. This time Steyn made no mistake with his shot at goal, leaving the Sharks win a one point, 16-15 lead.
The Bulls made a costly mistake from the resulting kick-off as fullback Warrick Gelant tried to exit from his 22. His kick clattered into the head of centre Johnny Kotze and the Sharks were awarded a scrum for an accidental offsides.
From the set-piece, debutante scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba fired the ball into the hands of bulldozing centre Andre Esterhuizen. The Springbok punched over the advantage line before offloading the ball to Nohamba, who had swivelled around in support.
The 21-year-old streaked into space and scored underneath the posts for a memorable try in his first ever Super Rugby game. Bosch converted the try on the stroke of the full-time hooter wrapping up a 23-15 win for the Durban outfit.