The Vodacom Bulls saw two yellow cards and a red card as they were handed a 47-20 defeat by the Cell C Sharks of Durban. The all-entertaining affair at Kings Park Stadium enthralled some 25813 fans who were treated to some fine New Years’ Eve rugby that produced six tries.
The visiting herd opened their bank account for the afternoon with two converted penalty kicks through the boot of Chris Smith. Not wanting to play second fiddle to a Springbok kitted out Cell C Sharks side, the Pretoria outfit were playing with great confidence charging for the line as they were hunting for the opening try. Making good inroads, they were denied their first try of the afternoon having executed well a pickup and drive over the far eastern side of the stadium, showing their intent for the afternoon.
The men in blue were made to wait for their opening try, which eventually came in the 19th minute, when Canan Moodie diligently kicked his ball over the Sharks’ last line of defence and successfully chased to dot the ball down under the poles, with Chris Smith successfully converting the try.
The home side stayed in the game as Curwin Bosch slotted in all three penalty kicks, seeing the scores sitting at 9-13 to the visitors after 30mins of play.
The Vodacom Bulls were down to 14 with 10 minutes to go as Moodie was shown yellow for a cynical attempt at attempting to intercept play, and the Sharks were subsequently awarded a penalty try to lead by three. Seven minutes later, the Vodacom Bulls were dealt a further blow as Cyle Brink was shown yellow for repeated infringements.
With two men (Moodie and Brink) in the bin, the visitors struggled to hold out their hosts who went over the line for another try to see them stretch their lead with another converted opportunity. Spotting an opportunity to make good of the numbers, the Sharks kept play going, searching for a try before the break and they found one, which they converted to further stretch their lead over last season’s finalists.
After playing 47 minutes of rugby, the first stanza ended with the scores seating at 30-13.
When the Vodacom Bulls returned in the second stanza, all 15 men were back in the park, as Brink joined his herd soon after the restart whistle.
10 minutes into the second stanza, the hosts broke the Vodacom Bulls’ defence for their fourth try of the afternoon. Bosch converted the try and the Durban outfit led 37-13.
There was still the belief of a comeback when – from the halfway line – the Vodacom Bulls built a good passage of play, working the ball to the wing, as Canan Moodie got on his bike toward the try line. With Goosen on standby, the speedster offloaded for the fullback to dot down the sides’ second of the afternoon, closing the gap to 17 with 23 minutes left on the clock.
A late second yellow (resulting in a red card) for Moodie, eliminated any chance of closing the gap as the hosts ran in a converted try and penalty late into the second half, to cement their victory for the night.
“It was a very tough outing. I think we started really well, in the first 30 minutes we were in control of the game but if you give the Sharks 22m entries, mauls and yellow cards; then you will be in trouble. The last 10 minutes of the opening half – playing with 10 men – really hurt us” captain, Ruan Nortje reflected on the match.
Nortje went on to say: “Discipline against a world-class team, it will be difficult to come back. All credit to the Sharks for putting us under so much pressure. We must take this on the chin because there is lots to take and learn out of this game.”
The Vodacom Bull skipper reflected on ‘a good year’, despite the ups and downs of life in sport.
“It has been a blessed 2022, so we can only be thankful for the opportunities received. We may not have finished the year the way we wanted but massive opportunities for us ahead and plenty to work on for next year and step up.”
BBCo. Director of Rugby, Jake White said the outing hurts but experience comes through wins and losses.
“At times you must give credit, this is a tough place to play! Once they play their power game, get in the 22 and use their forwards, they can score against anybody,”
“It was difficult for us to stop them, even more, difficult to stop them with 13 men on the field. We fought bravely but we cannot make up things, it will not get easier but we just got to make sure we get things right.”
“The irony about tonight is that we beat the Sharks at home with a bonus point, and that means we are now identical (after this result). They must still play the Stormers and that opens up all the possible permutations in the tournament.”
Asked about Canan Moodie’s two yellow cards, White remarked: “You can imagine Canan is feeling down, I thought he was a bit unlucky. I understand by the letter of the law the ref’s decision was right but was it a scoring opportunity? Perhaps not. Canan will learn and he will become better for us,”
“We will get it right. One thing about sport is it takes a while. This time last year we were in the same boat, bottom of the log and wondering whether we will get into the playoffs and we did,”
“The players must go through this and it’s painful but I am confident that we will get it right. They are a good bunch of guys and they are hurting but they will get it right” concluded the Vodacom Bulls mentor.
White also had some words of thanks to fans who have travelled to spend their holiday season with the Vodacom Bulls. “The numbers we have seen over the last two weeks have been fantastic and I believe that the support will still grow for the competition, the more our rugby audience learns and understand the competition. Playing during this time of the year is different but we have enjoyed the incredible support, thank you to the fans.”
VODACOM BULLS SCORERS:
Tries: Canan Moodie x1, Johan Goosen x1
Conversion: Chris Smith x2
Penalty: Chris Smith x2
VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Simphiwe Matanzima, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco Van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Bernard van der Linde, 10. Chris Smith, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Cornal Hendricks, 14. Canan Moodie, 15. Johan Goosen
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Lionel Mapoe, 23. David Kriel
MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist