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Sharks sink sorry Bulls

Monday, February 17, 2014

DURBAN, South Africa - A last-gasp Patrick Lambie try earned the Coastal Sharks a bonus point as they outplayed fellow South Africans the Northern Bulls 31-16 on Saturday in their Super Rugby opener.

Five-eighth Lambie dotted down on 83 minutes after sustained pressure as the home side made a perfect start under new coach Jake White.

A 2007 World Cup winner as Springboks coach, White moved to Durban after guiding the Brumbies to the final last year.

And many pundits are predicting the 'special one' of rugby union could go a step further this season and steer three-time runners-up the Sharks to glory.

The Durban outfit, with a new skipper in Springboks hooker Bismarck du Plessis, looked good as they scored three first-half tries en route to a 23-9 halftime advantage.

The Bulls, with 36-year-old lock Victor Matfield coming on in the second half after more than two years in the competitive cold, came within 10 points eight minutes from time.

But they could not get the score that could have given them a bonus point and the late sin-binning of left-wing Bjorn Basson was followed by the Lambie try.

Matfield's second-half entry was in line with the Bulls' claim that he will be used "sparingly", and needs more game time before a fair assessment can be made.

Success before a large, appreciative crowd at Kings Park in Durban took the Sharks to the top of the South African conference with five points.

The Golden Lions, shock 21-20 winners over the Central Cheetahs in Bloemfontein earlier on Saturday, have four, the Cheetahs one and inactive Western Stormers and Bulls none.

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