Super Rugby: Bulls win close encounter against Sharks

Last Updated: 25/05/13 9:12pm

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Morne Steyn: late penalty proved the match-winner

Morne Steyn: late penalty proved the match-winner

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A 75th-minute penalty from Morne Steyn saw the Bulls clinch an 18-16 victory over the Sharks at Kings Park on Saturday.

A 75th-minute penalty from Morne Steyn saw the Bulls clinch an 18-16 victory over the Sharks at Kings Park on Saturday.

Steyn kicked all of the Bulls' points with three penalties on either side of half time while Sharks scrum-half Charl McLeod scored the only try of a hard-fought encounter.

Indeed an otherwise dull clash, characterised by conservative tactics and endless kicking, only really came to life if the final ten minutes as Patrick Lambie converted McLeod's try from the touchline to give the hosts a one-point lead.

But the Bulls would have the last laugh with ever-reliable Steyn finding the target once again as the team from Pretoria consolidated their place at the top of the SA conference and left the Sharks with a mountain to climb if they are to have any hope of making the play-offs.

Three Steyn penalties helped the Bulls hold a 9-3 advantage at half time and they would remain in front until Lambie's 72nd-minute conversion put the hosts ahead, albeit only for a few minutes.

The Sharks went ahead in just the third minute courtesy of a Lambie penalty that was awarded after a high tackle by Pierre Spies, although the Bulls hit back via Steyn when the hosts were penalised for coming in from the side.

John Plumtree's men did have an opportunity to retake the lead after a scrum infringement by the Bulls front row, but Riaan Viljoen's 50-plus-metre attempt sailed inches wide.

Some illegal defending by Keegan Daniel handed Steyn another shot at goal just after 22 minutes and the veteran Springbok fly-half made no mistake to give his side the lead.

That lead was stretched after an offside call against the Sharks, with Lambie missing a second penalty for his team four minutes from the break.

The gap was six points at the break and the Bulls' job to hold on to that became slightly harder four minutes into the second half when Bjorn Basson was sent to the sin bin following a spear tackle on Lambie.

And the Sharks fly-half instantly had a chance to cut the lead when Chiliboy Ralepelle conceded a penalty - Lambie making it a three-point ball game.

Twist

But there was another twist after 50 minutes when Franco van der Merwe was shown a yellow card for taking out a man at the line-out, momentarily turning the contest into a 14-man affair.

After Steyn slotted over the subsequent penalty, the Sharks should have had the first try after a brilliant break forward by Kyle Cooper, but they failed to cross despite a swarm of options homing in on the right.

They did have the consolation of a penalty, though, with Lambie booting over.

However, the three points were gifted straight back when Daniel bore the brunt of pulling down a maul and Steyn knocked over again just as the clock ticked past the hour.

There was finally some elation for the home fans with eight minutes to play as McLeod picked up at the base of a penalty scrum and darted over to score on the right - the scrum-half dotting down as he was about to be taken into touch.

But a line-out penalty was then conceded by Tendai Mtawarira straight after the restart, with Steyn slotting over to seal the win.

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