Steyn steals the show
Fly-half kicks the Bulls to an opening day victory
By Tony Curtis. Last Updated: 24/02/12 7:21pm
Morne Steyn: Landed all 18 points for the Bulls
Morne Steyn was the star of the show as the new era at the Bulls got off to a winning start against the Sharks in Pretoria.
The South Africa fly-half landed five second-half penalties and a drop-goal to seal an 18-13 victory - but only after a stuttering start.
The first half finished scoreless as both sides struggled to get into their stride in their opening encounter of the new season.
However Steyn's boot ensured the Bulls - who saw the likes of Bakkies Botha,Victor Matfield, Danie Roussow, Gary Botha and Fourie du Preez depart in the off-season - finished on top.
Patrick Lambie scored eight points from the boot and Jacques Botes scored a late try for the Sharks, who had failed to cope with the aerial bombardment throughout.
Five missed attempts in total - including a monster 65m effort from Riaan Viljoen - was as close as either got to opening the scoring in the first half.
However this was not through a lack of effort as some bone-crunching hits - especially from Juandre Kruger - left both sets of players feeling the effects.
One worry for both sides - and for the Bulls in the post-Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha era in particular - was that the lineout failed to fully function.
On the occasions it did work for the Bulls, they were able to back great yardage through their rolling maul.
The deadlock was finally broken two minutes into the second half when Steyn slotted over from close range.
The Sharks immediately responded with a 50m effort from Lambie after the Bulls were guilty of collapsing a scrum on halfway.
However the Bulls retook the lead through Steyn, with the fly-half slotting over four successive penalties - including two massive efforts of his own.
The Sharks stopped the rot through a Lambie three-pointer but a drop-goal from Steyn restored their 12-point lead.
The visitors hit back with 10 minutes left when replacement Jacques Botes dived over following Lwazi Mvovo's initial break.
Lambie's conversion cut the deficit to five points and set up a thrilling finish but the Bulls were able to close out the win.