Pienaar praises Bulls for 'proud' victory
Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar hailed his team after they fought off defeat and illness in their 42-31 Currie Cup victory over the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.
Half of the Bulls team had been struck down by flu, which restricted them to only one training session in the week before the match.
“Coming from a loss to the Cheetahs and coming from a week where we actually had no training… they've done well and done the blue jersey and the supporters proud,” Pienaar said.
The Sharks entered the encounter as the only unbeaten team in the early stages of the Currie Cup season.
The result ensured a congested log at the end of the third week of competition, with three teams level on nine points and only three points separating the top three from the fifth side in the standings.
Sharks coach John Plumtree acknowledged that the Bulls were the better team in what he described as an entertaining match.
“We just weren't accurate tonight," Plumtree said.
"They put us under pressure when they kicked off to us, and our line-outs didn't function properly.
“So the basics of our game weren't good enough to win that contest.
“In fairness to the Bulls, they were pretty good, they dominated the collision area and they bullied us a bit at times.”
The match highlighted flyhalf Louis Fouche's class as he contributed 27 points to the home side's score.
The 22-year-old playmaker's ball distribution was crisp and he was a constant thorn in the Sharks' side with his canon-like kicking boot.
On the other side of the Jukskei river, at Ellis Park, the Golden Lions clinched a 26-23 victory over Western Province at the death thanks to the trusty boot of flyhalf Elton Jantjies.
Their last gasp effort left Province coach Allister Coetzee reeling after his side dominated play for most of the match.
“We left a few chances out there... I can't accept that we dominated the game and didn't win. It's unacceptable,” Coetzee said.
“We conceded simple penalties and again it's unacceptable.”
Jantjies succeeded with seven penalty conversions, contributing 21 points to his side's score and assisting the title holders to their second victory of the Currie Cup campaign.
“He's (Jantjies) a great attacking player. His general play was very good,” said Lions interim coach Johan Ackermann.
“He showed just how good he is after being out of action for a few weeks. To come back in that form was good. He's a great footballer.”
Earlier on Saturday, the Cheetahs outwitted their central-region neighbours, Griquas, in the second half as they bagged a 29-10 victory.
Griquas held the visitors to 10-10 going into the halftime break but they lost grip in the second half.
Despite their lacklustre performance in the first period, the Cheetahs bounced back with three tries to secure victory.