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Arno Botha (C) scored two tries in the Bulls’ extra-time Currie Cup final win over the Sharks. (File photo).
An electrical storm midway through the first half didn’t stop the Bulls from winning a dramatic Currie Cup South African rugby final after a try in the second period of extra-time.
The Bulls – coached by the Springboks’ 2007 Rugby World Cup winning coach Jake White – celebrated their first title since 2009 after coming from behind to beat the Sharks 26-19 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday (Sunday NZ time).
Play was stopped in the 24th minute after reports of an imminent lightning storm. Players were off the field for over 25 minutes before the game could resume.
The Bulls’ Super Sub loose forward Arno Botha scored two tries, including the match-winner in the second spell of extra-time, to ensure the trophy would stay in Pretoria.
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“It’s incredible when you consider the challenges,’ White, the Bulls’ director of rugby, said in a post-match television interview.
“No crowds, Covid, lightning and thunder causing the first half to be cut in half. With everything, we had to adapt all the time. It’s definitely going to be a final that everyone will remember for many different reasons.”
White praised the contributions of his impact players off the bench, including Botha, and said he was “really proud of the way we stuck in there”.
” We had a chance on the hooter to win and then they got a penalty [in extra time] and they missed it. It was incredible.”
The Sharks led 13-9 at halftime after a try to Sbu Nkosi and a conversion and two penalties by Curwin Bosch to three penalties from the Bulls’ Morne Steyn.
Bosch banged over two more goals early in the second spell to extend the lead to 19-9, but the flyhalf also missed five penalty attempts, most from long range.
But Botha came off the bench to grab his first try, and replacement Chris Smith slotted a goal to tie the scores, but missed another in the 83rd minute to leave the score at 19-19 at the end of regulation time.
Neither side could score in the first period of extra time, with Bosch and Smith both missing penalties.
In the next stanza, the Bulls put together 19 consecutive phases, culminating in Botha crashing over for the decisive try.
AT A GLANCE
CURRIE CUP FINAL (at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
BULLS 26 (Arno Botha 2 tries; Morne Steyn con, 3 pen; Chris Smith con, pen) SHARKS 19 (Sbu Nkosi try; Curwin Bosch con, 4 pen). HT: 9-13. Fulltime: 19-19. After Extra Time: 26-19.