The Sharks started their Super Rugby campaign with a hard-fought 23-15 win over the Bulls at Kings Park in Durban on Friday.
The Sharks scored the only tries of the game via Sibusiso Nkosi and replacement scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba, who scored in the dying moments of the game with his team just 16-15 ahead.
The victory is the Sharks’ first over the Bulls in Super Rugby since 2014.
The first half was a scrappy affair with little to no try-scoring opportunities created by both teams.
Instead, they had to rely on the boots of their flyhalves for their points. It was Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn who opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the second minute of the match.
That first penalty kick from Steyn started a mini battle with Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch, who levelled the scores with a three-pointer of his own in the seventh minute.
The two flyhalves traded penalties again before Steyn put his team in front a few minutes before the break with an excellent drop goal.
At half-time, it was 9-6 to the Bulls.
The first try of the game finally came in the 44th minute when Bulls wing Rosko Specman allowed the ball, which was kicked by Bosch, to bounce in his own in-goal area where Sibusiso Nkosi pounced on it to score.
Bosch was successful with a difficult conversion to put his team 13-9 in front.
The Bulls had a chance to hit back a few minutes later, but Cornal Hendricks lost the ball forward with an open tryline in front of him.
The Sharks then extended their lead to seven points in the 53rd minute with another three points from the boot of Bosch before Steyn brought his team back to within four points with a successful penalty kick of his own on the 60-minute mark.
It was a one-point ball game with just four minutes left on the clock when Steyn landed another penalty.
However, the game was wrapped up when Nohamba showed his speed to race away for try after a scrum inside the Bulls’ 22.
Bosch added the extra two points with the conversion to deny the Bulls a bonus point.
Man of the match: Wing Sibusiso Nkosi was powerful with ball in hand and he had a few good runs out wide. He was also one of his team’s two try-scorers in the match.
Tries: Nkosi, Nohamba
Cons: Bosch 2
Pens: Bosch 3
Pens: Steyn 4
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12
Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis
Schreuder, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron
Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger
Odendaal (captain), 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8
Josh Strauss, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Jeandré Rudolph, 5 Juandré
Kruger, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Ryno Pieterse, 21 Wian Vosloo, 22 Embrose Papier, 23 Manie Libbok.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Egon Seconds (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)