Super 14 final 2007
Bulls snatch dramatic Super 14 victory
May 19, 2007
Victor Matfield and Fourie Du Preez lift the Super 14 trophy
© Getty Images
The Bulls snatched a dramatic 20-19 victory over the Sharks in a pulsating Super 14 Final at the Absa Stadium in Durban.
Speedster Bryan Habana cut his way through a tired Sharks defence for an injury-time try that set up the match-winning conversion that was slotted by flyhalf Derick Hougaard.
The Sharks, who played host to the final after topping the table during the regular season, dominated proceedings in the first half but were unable to build a commanding lead.
A Percy Montgomery penalty gave the Sharks an early lead but the Bulls rallied soon after and No.8 Pierre Spies broke through following an attacking lineout in the Sharks' 22 to grab the first try of the game.
Hougaard's conversion gave the Bulls a 7-3 lead but their lead was short-lived.
Within five minutes Sharks wing JP Pietersen pounced on a loose pass by Spies to race up the touch-line before dotting down in the corner.
Montgomery failed with his conversion attempt but two further penalties either side of a successful effort from Hougaard saw the Sharks head into the break 14-10 in the lead.
Kicking continued to play a large role in tactics in the second half and Hougaard attempted to close the gap early in the second period with a long-range penalty but his effort dropped short.
However he was on target just past the hour mark to bring the Bulls to within a point of their South African rivals.
The bruising nature of the encounter and the heat continued to take its toll on the players as the 54,000 capacity crowd urged the sides on.
It was the Sharks who looked ot have edged nearer victory when replacement lock Albert van den Berg burrowed his way over after a catch and drive took his side deep into the Bulls' 22.
That score saw the Sharks move into a 19-13 lead but it would have been more if wing Francois Steyn had slotted what proved to be a crucial conversion.
The Bulls rallied once more but were thwarted by the Sharks defence until they were handed the chance for one last attack after a wayward kick handed them one last throw of the dice.
It was then, with the Sharks' weary defence stretched, that Habana sythed through before diving over to score and silence the home crowd.
They were already celebrating before Hougaard set the seal on the win with the easy conversion.
Sharks (14) 19
Bulls (10) 20
Sharks: Percy Montgomery, Francois Steyn, Waylon Murray, Brad Barritt, JP Pietersen, Butch James, Ruan Pienaar, Ryan Kankowski, AJ Venter, Jacques Botes, Johann Muller, Johan Ackermann, BJ Botha, John Smit (capt), Deon Carstens.
Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Albert van den Berg, Warren Britz, Bob Skinstad, Rory Kockott, Adrian Jacobs.
Bulls: Johan Roets, Akona Ndungane, JP Nel, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana, Derick Hougaard, Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Wikus van Heerden, Pedrie Wannenburg, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Rayno Gerber, Gary Botha, Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: Jaco Engels, Danie Thiart, Danie Rossouw, Derick Kuun, Heini Adams, Morne Steyn, Jaco van der Westhuyzen.
Referee: Steve Walsh (NZ)