The Vodacom Bulls outscored Sharks four tries to three in the last round of Rainbow Cup South Africa on Saturday evening. The win sees them book a slot in the Rainbow Cup ‘North vs South’ final in Italy later this month.
The Sharks were the only other side in with a chance of making it to the final. The Bulls needed just a point from the game.
The first half was cagey, with both sides not willing to take any risks. Losing their Captain and stalwart Duane Vermeulen last Friday did not deter the Bulls in any way as new Captain Marcell Coetzee inspired the team to a win.
Coetzee is effectively on standby to replace Vermeulen in the Springboks squad to face the touring British and Irish Lions in July. It, therefore, did not come as a surprise when Bulls Coach Jake White named him captain for such an important fixture.
Tries from Cornal Hendricks, David Kriel, Stravino Jacobs, and Janko Swanepoel coupled with four conversions and two penalties from Morne Steyn were enough for the Pretoria-based side to grab a 34-22 win over the Sharks.
Springboks Captain Siya Kolisi, JJ van der Mescht, and Anthony Volmink went over for Sharks while Curwin Bosch and Manie Libbok slotted in the extras. Bosch also added a penalty in the first half.
The game was not short of controversy as the Sharks were restricted from utilizing their two Springboks props, Ox Nche, and Thomas du Toit due to national team protocols. The duo had not served their mandatory week’s rest.
Sharks had earlier put forward a request to South Africa Rugby and the Bulls to have the duo play off the bench but the request was said to have been “denied” by the Bulls.
The Bulls also had to play the last twenty minutes of the game with Bok’s duo of Marco van Staden and Trevor Nyakane in the bin due to discipline issues.
Coming into the competition, the Bulls had won the inaugural Super Rugby Unlocked campaign and the 2020-21 Currie Cup. This final gives them a real chance of winning a third major trophy in six months
They will face Benetton in Treviso, Italy on 19 June in the Rainbow Cup ‘North vs South’ final.