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The Bulls takes the Shield for the First Time

Bulls crowned SA Shield champions

Jake White’s Vodacom Bulls have a significant opportunity to win the Vodacom URC after securing a home quarter-final with a decisive victory over the Sharks on Saturday. The Bulls’ 26-14 win in Durban not only clinched the SA Shield for the first time but also secured second place on the overall standings as they head into the URC playoffs. In this crucial match, replacement hooker Akker van der Merwe made a remarkable impact by scoring two tries, contributing to the bonus-point win for the Bulls. The Pretoria team is now set to host Benetton in the quarter-finals next Saturday at Loftus Versfeld, with the prospect of a home semi-final also on the horizon. Reflecting on the victory in a post-match conference at Kings Park, White emphasized the importance of the upcoming games: “I cannot stress this enough, we’ve played really well and again, four tries, and even though we made so many mistakes. I’m very happy that we could score from mauls, but we also need to score when the pressure is on, which in the playoffs is probably going to be one of the areas which is important.” Despite the impressive performance, White remains cautious about future challenges. “People talk of a home semi but that means we still have to win a home quarter-final. The final in the first year [of the URC] we lost, the second year we caught the DHL Stormers as the champions in the quarter-finals and we lost.”

Blue Bulls Akker van der Merwe
Blue Bulls Akker van der Merwe.

Van der Merwe’s tries were pivotal in securing the top-two finish and the SA Shield. His second-half performance was crucial as the Bulls overcame the Sharks in a match that had significant implications for the URC standings and the SA conference. Flyhalf Siya Masuku initially put the Sharks ahead with his maiden URC try, converting it to give them a 7-0 lead. However, the Bulls responded strongly, with tries from outside centre David Kriel and hooker Johan Grobbelaar, giving them a 12-7 lead at halftime. Johan Goosen added the conversions. The second half saw Sharks flanker Vincent Tshituka receiving a yellow card for cynical play at the breakdown, putting his team under pressure. The Bulls capitalized on this, with Goosen converting Van der Merwe’s first try off a rolling maul. Despite a late try from the Sharks’ Dylan Richardson and another conversion from Masuku, Van der Merwe’s second try secured the win and the bonus point for the Bulls. With this victory, the Bulls have positioned themselves strongly for the playoffs, and their fans will be eagerly anticipating the upcoming quarter-final against Benetton.

 

 

 

SARugbyMag

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