Captain Phendulani Buthelezi scored twice as his Sharks team beat the Blue Bulls 53-33 at the U18 Craven Week in Johannesburg on Tuesday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Billed as the biggest game yet at this year’s tournament, all indications were that viewers were in for a classic. But that was just optimism. In reality, this was far from a contest. It was a first-rate performance by the Sharks with a guest appearance by the Bulls.
Within the opening 30 minutes, the Sharks had raced away to a 31-0 lead. This was after they made a blistering start that left the Bulls shell-shocked.
The Sharks dominated every aspect of play and scored six first-half tries through wing Cham Zondeki, flyhalf Dylan Pretorius, Buthelezi (two), flank Dylan Richardson and fullback Siyanda Cele.
However, the Sharks were dealt a massive blow on the stroke of half-time when big-carrying flank Dylan Kruger was given a straight red card for a dangerous cleanout.
It was an indiscretion that almost cost his team, as it threw the Bulls a lifeline. Fullback Diego Appollis sliced through the Sharks defence to get the Bulls on the board with a converted try before the break.
Inspired by the man-over advantage, a re-energised Bulls side emerged from the sheds in the second half as they relentlessly attempted to overthrow the Sharks. But with their forwards still finding it difficult to match the intensity and physicality of the Sharks pack, it was the backs who took it upon themselves to deliver.
Inside centre Zach Briel, flyhalf Ulrich Maritz and Apollis scored in quick succession to reduce the deficit to 10 points with 20 minutes to play. The Sharks started to panic and when they had a regulation penalty kick in front of the sticks, centre Rynhardt Jonker’s rushed attempt went painstakingly wide.
Not long after though, he made up for that miss by running an inside line off the back of a lineout to score. Scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba added the conversion and kicked a penalty to extend their lead to 20 points before centre Conan le Fleur scored the Sharks’ final try to get them past the 50-point mark.
There was a late consolation effort for the Bulls, but despite their second-half fightback, they were just too far behind and more importantly too sloppy in defence to deny the Sharks.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Diego Apollis (2), Zach Briel, Ulrich Maritz, Jaco Labuschagne. Conversions: Maritz (4).
Sharks – Try: Cham Zondeki, Phendulani Buthelezi (2), Dylan Pretorius, Dylan Richardson, Siyanda Cele, Rynhardt Jonker, Conan le Fleur. Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (5). Penalty: Nohamba.
Bulls – 15 Diego Appollis, 14 Mpho Kubheka, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Zach Briel, 11 Tyrique Ferris, 10 Ulrich Maritz, 9 Giovanne Snyman, 8 Phillip Potgieter, 7 Jaco Labuschagne, 6 Khanya Jada, 5 Ruben Kotze, 4 Orateng Koikanya, 3 James Combrinck, 2 Ruben Veldsman, 1 Warren Nkobane.
Subs: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Robin Mokoena, 18 Wiehan Bezuidenhout, 19 Kgalalelo Mothombo, 20 Gustav de Jager, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Regard Roets, 23 Mdu Nkosi.
Sharks – 15 Siyanda Cele, 14 Njabulo Mjara, 13 Conan le Fleur, 12 Rynhardt Jonker, 11 Cham Zondeki, 10 Dylan Pretorius, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi, 7 Dylan Richardson, 6 Dylan Kruger, 5 Jj van der Mescht, 4 Edward Laubscher, 3 Keynan Knox, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 1 Jordan Clarke.
Subs: 16 Daniel Truter, 17 Thabiso Mdletshe, 18 Brendon Schwuister, 19 Celimpilo Gumede, 20 Nthuthuko Mchunu, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Morne van Rensburg, 23 Lwandile Menze.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images