The Bulls and Sharks booked their places in the Carling Currie Cup final next weekend with triumphs over the Lions and Western Province respectively.
The scene was set at Loftus Versveld for the Highveld battle in which Jake White’s Bulls managed a 26-21 victory over the Lions in a spirited game in which both sides showed a lot of fight. Each team scored three tries and the result could have been different had the Lions not had to play a period of the match with 13 men after yellow cards were shown to Marvin Orie and Willem Alberts for separate incidents.
Despite their disciplinary issues, the Lions performed admirably and enjoyed 52% of the possession while the territory statistic was shared equally.
Morne Steyn slotted three penalties and a conversion for a personal tally of 10 points while his side’s tires went to winger Stravino Jacobs (2) and hooker Johan Grobbelaar.
It was a good all-round effort from the Bulls which pleased their coach.
“The nice thing is that we’ve had really good fighting spirit in the second half – I said it last week as well, that we won most of the second halves. After being 14-0 up and then two minutes later 14-all, some sides would maybe start to panic. The fact that we regrouped and ended up showing lots of composure is obviously satisfying for me as a coach,” White said.
“We squeezed them and squeezed them and squeezed them, and at 11-0, it was a true reflection, even though we didn’t have a lot of the ball.
“The one thing the Lions have consistently done well over the last couple of years is that they come prepared and are not going to go away. They are a very difficult team to play against, and I was always aware of the fact that they will make it tough for you to win games. They weren’t going to lie down and die.”
Meanwhile, In Cape Town, an unattractive, scrappy affair culminated in a 10-point victory for the Sharks who will now make the march to Pretoria next weekend.
The occasion was an emotive one as it was said to be the last professional game to be played at the legendary Newlands Stadium.
Curwin Bosch walked away with the man-of-the-match award after a superb kicking performance which yielded 14 points, including a drop-goal. A try by lock JJ van der Mescht gave the visitors a total of 19 points while Province only managed three penalties from the boot of fly-half Tim Swiel for a final score of 19-9.
Province dominated in both territory (58%) and possession (52%) but could not convert their advantage into points in the face of the Sharks’ resolve.