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Hungry Sharks boost Super finals hopes

Date

Monthati Molosankwe

Sharks player JP Pietersen scores a try past the tackle of Bulls player Dean Greyling.

Sharks player JP Pietersen scores a try past the tackle of Bulls player Dean Greyling. Photo: Reuters

The Sharks are one bonus-point victory away from the Super Rugby play-offs after defeating fellow South Africans the Bulls 32-10 at Kings Park on Friday.

MATCH STATS

They host Cheetahs next Saturday in another South African derby and another bonus-point triumph will assure them of place in the knockout phase, possibly at the expense of title holders Queensland Reds.

The Bulls can also qualify with a bonus-point home win over bottom-of-the-table Lions while the Stormers are set to top the South African conference and secure a bye into the semi-finals.

The Sharks had to win the penultimate-round match to have any hope of finishing among the top six after the league phase of the southern hemisphere provincial championship and laid their victory foundations during the opening half.

Gaining the upper hand from the kick-off through their rampant pack, the Durban franchise scored two tries via Springboks Bismarck du Plessis and JP Pietersen to turn over 20-3 ahead.

A further try from flank and captain Keegan Daniel four minutes into the second half stretched the advantage to 22 points before three-time champions Bulls hit back with a try from full-back Zane Kirchner.

Fly-half Morne Steyn converted to cut the deficit to 25-10 and the home team had to withstand wave after wave of attacks from the Pretoria franchise before breaking out to score the bonus-point fourth try two minutes from time.

The Sharks won a line-out deep in Bulls territory and after several attempts to score were repulsed, scrum-half Charl McLeod threw a long pass to full-back Louis Ludik and he dived over for a try replacement back Meyer Bosman converted.

France fly-half Frederic Michalak kicked two conversions and a penalty before retiring with an injured right shoulder on 73 minutes and inside centre Francois Steyn planted a 55-metre first-half penalty between the posts.

The Sharks showed no ill effects of not having played since June 2 with the Durban team having a bye last weekend after a three-week break for the traditional mid-year Tests.

They won without several injured stars, including fly-half Patrick Lambie, lock Steven Sykes and tearaway flank Willem Alberts, one of the stars when South Africa defeated England 2-0 in a three-Test series last month.

Daniel heaped special praise on Japan-bound No 8 Ryan Kankowski, whose herculean efforts in a brutal physical battle earned him the the man of the match award.

"I am so proud of the boys -- especially Ryan -- and we are going to miss him when he goes overseas. This performance demonstrated that we have strength in depth," said an exhausted but smiling skipper.

Bulls captain and No.8 Pierre Spies had no excuses: "We could never get going and the better team won. The Sharks were hungrier than us and we battled to get out of our half during the opening 40 minutes."

SHARKS 32 (Keegan Daniel, Bismarck du Plessis, Louis Ludik, JP Pietersen tries Frederic Michalak 2, Meyer Bosman cons Michalak, Francois Steyn pens) bt BULLS 10 (Zane Kirchner try Morne Steyn con pen) at ABSA Stadium. Referee: Jaco Peyper.

AFP

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
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Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
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