Five Bulls heroes in Currie Cup final victory over Sharks
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CAPE TOWN - The Bulls were without their biggest star at the moment, flyhalf Johan Goosen, but that didn’t stop them from dismantling the Sharks 44-10 in Saturday’s Currie Cup final at Loftus Versfeld.
Powerful No 8 Elrigh Louw was chosen as the Man of the Match for an outstanding performance, but we looked at five other heroes from the title decider…
Joe van Zyl
Jake White gambled somewhat by opting for Van Zyl – who hadn’t had much game time in recent months – at hooker, with Schalk Erasmus having recovered in time from a knock in the semi-final and Jan-Hendrik Wessels in top form.
But White did say that beforehand that Van Zyl “does his basics really well”, and that was evident in the final. He hit his lineout jumpers most of the time, and that provided the platform for the Bulls to attack the Sharks with front-foot ball – Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe scored their first two tries from lineouts.
Van Zyl also stuck in with the ball-in-hand and made his tackles.
The towering lock has been a No 5 lineout jumper up to now, but proved in this tournament that he can operate as a No 4 ‘bruiser’. But he showcased his jumping skills against the Sharks, claiming the Bulls throw-ins and poaching a number of Sharks feeds as well.
He dove-tailed superbly with lineout organiser Ruan Nortjé, and also carried and defended strongly around the fringes. Swanepoel capped a fine display with a well-deserved try.
With Goosen out, Burger played an even more prominent role on attack for the Bulls. His service from the base seemed to be sharper than in previous games this season, and he varied his play superbly in deciding when to pass to hard-running forwards or to feed the backline.
Burger also took one or two tap penalties that caught the Sharks napping, and scored a wonderful try with a big dummy to the left.
The veteran outside centre showed his worth once more in finals rugby. Mapoe was dynamic whenever he took the ball up to the Sharks, and even after he kicked an early ball away when he should have passed, he quickly made up for it with a terrific try as he cut through the defence to score.
Mapoe also helped to shut-out the Sharks backs for the entire game, as the Durban team went side-to-side, but made little headway against a well-organised Bulls defence.
While he has always been safe under the high ball since becoming a regular starter at fullback, Kriel took his attacking game to another level in the final.
The tall No 15 contested Bulls kicks, ran with purpose when carrying the ball and managed to get a few offloads away in the tackle.
He has also worked out how to come into the line, and he is a strong defender as well.