The Sharks finished 2022 on a high note as they secured a 47-20 bonus-point victory over rivals the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship (URC).
The win sees the Sharks move into seventh place on the overall URC standings and they are now just five points behind the Bulls, with a game in hand, in the South African Shield.
Siya Kolisi put in a man-of-the-match performance for the hosts, while fly-half Curwin Bosch scored 20 points from the tee, converting four penalties and four conversions.
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Springboks Grant Williams and Bongi Mbonambi scored late in the first half after the Sharks were awarded a penalty try, with Bosch slotting three penalties and two conversions to give his side a 30-17 half-time lead.
Canan Moodie claimed an 18th minute try for the Bulls before being sin-binned, while Chris Smith added the conversion and two penalties.
Rohan Janse van Rensburg scored twice in the second half for the Sharks with Bosch converted both and added a penalty, while Johan Goosen’s try was converted by Smith as the Bulls fell to a heavy defeat.
Stormers complete unbeaten home run in 2022
Defending United Rugby Championship champions, the Stormers, closed out 2022 by completing their unbeaten year at the Cape Town Stadium, defeating the Lions 40-8.
The URC title holders made it eight wins from 10 starts in this season’s competition with a bonus-point success.
Full-back Damian Willemse and hooker Dean Fourie scored early tries as the Stormers threatened to embark on a points spree.
But the Lions, currently the only South African side outside the league’s top eight, did not throw in the towel.
Centre Dan du Plessis added a third Stormers try before the interval, and wing Angelo Davids scored shortly afterwards following Henco van Wyk’s touchdown for the Lions, while Jordan Hendrikse kicked a penalty.
Hendrikse’s opposite number Manie Libbok booted five conversions, including the extras for Davids’ second touchdown 13 minutes from time and a late Marcel Theunissen score.
Captain Federico Ruzza’s hat trick helps Benetton to comfortable victory
Benetton completed a quickfire United Rugby Championship double against their Italian rivals Zebre Parma by winning 40-17 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
But Zebre, beaten 38-5 by Benetton on Christmas Eve, gave their opponents a fright before slipping to an 11th successive league defeat of the season.
Zebre had full-back Lorenzo Pani sent off seven minutes before half-time for a dangerous tackle on his opposite number Matteo Minozzi.
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And although Benetton ultimately wiped out a 10-point interval advantage, they were made to work hard for a victory that took them into the URC’s top-eight.
Captain Federico Ruzza led the way by scoring a hat-trick of tries, while there were also touchdowns for flanker Manuel Zuliani, centre Tommaso Menoncello and replacement prop Federico Zani, with Benetton’s former Wasps fly-half Jacob Umaga adding three conversions and Tomas Albornoz two.
⚡️Zebre come flying out the blocks! #ZEBvBEN
⏱️ 74 seconds to score their first try. #URC pic.twitter.com/EZZDR6KrN6
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) December 31, 2022
Zebre led through early scores by centre Erich Cronje and wing Jacopo Trulla, while fly-half Tiff Eden kicked two conversions and a penalty, but Benetton had enough firepower to claim a sixth successive win in the fixture after scoring 33 unanswered second-half points.