The Durbanites physically dominated the men from Pretoria with their Springbok-laden pack, feasting at scrum time in particular, and outscored them by five tries to two to the delight of the close to 26,000 supporters who attended the New Year’s Eve encounter at Hollywoodbets Kings Park.

Jake White’s men started well and led 13-9 but conceded two yellow cards late in the first half, which changed the complexion of the game, with the hosts racing to a 30-13 halftime lead.

There was no way back for the Vodacom Bulls in the second half, the evening belonging to the men in black and their captain Siya Kolisi, who was at his brilliant best on both sides of the ball.

The Vodacom Bulls got off to a perfect start, Chris Smith slotting a penalty goal after the hosts were pinged for holding on after fielding the kick-off. 

Curwin Bosch levelled the scores in the eighth minute after a monster scrum from his pack but Neil Powell’s charges battled under the pressure the visitors applied in general play.  

The Vodacom Bulls turned down two kickable penalties and Simphiwe Matanzima looked to have scored, however, determined defence from Kolisi saw the Cell C Sharks captain and Man of the Match keep him from grounding the ball.

Smith and Bosch traded penalty goals before Canan Moodie provided a bit of magic, chipping and re-gathering to score the opening try, which Smith converted to give the Vodacom Bulls a 13-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Bosch pulled three points back and the Cell C Sharks hit the front when Moodie conceded a penalty try and saw yellow for knocking down Kolisi’s pass to Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

The Durbanites were relentless and their one-man advantage became two as Cyle Brink was yellow-carded for a repeated infringement. They turned to their dominant scrum and livewire scrumhalf Grant Williams weaved his way through.

Moodie made his way back onto the field but could do nothing but watch as Bongi Mbonambi scored from a driving maul. Bosch converted both tries to stretch the lead to 17 at halftime.

Ten minutes into the second half, the Cell C Sharks scored a peach of a bonus-point try as slick handling from a lineout led to Rohan Janse van Rensburg dotting down. The Vodacom Bulls responded with a good try of their own through Johan Goosen to make it 37-20 going into the final quarter.

Bosch added a fourth penalty goal and converted Janse van Rensburg’s second try to finish with a personal tally of 20 points while the visitors finished the match with 14 men as Moodie received his second yellow and, therefore, a red card, for a dangerous tackle.


Cell C Sharks 47 (30) – Tries: Penalty try, Grant Williams, Bongi Mbonambi, Rohan Janse van Rensburg (2). Conversions: Curwin Bosch (4). Penalty goals: Bosch (4).

Vodacom Bulls 20 (13) – Tries: Canan Moodie, Johan Goosen. Conversions: Chris Smith (2). Penalty goal: Smith (2).