Rugby: Vodacom Bulls crowned Currie Cup champions

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 08: Trevor Nyakane of the Bulls dejected during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls at DHL Newlands on February 08, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The Vodacom Bulls dramatic resurgence under former Rugby World Cup-winning coach Jake White continued as the Pretoria-based side won the Currie Cup on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: The Vodacom Bulls squad during a past Super Rugby match. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The Bulls overcame the Cell C Sharks 26-19 at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria in a final that was forced into extra time after the match had ended 19-19 at the end of 80 minutes of play.

Flanker Arno Botha scored the all-important try in the 98th minute with flyhalf Chris Smith kicking over the conversion to seal a memorable victory.

The Sharks raced into a 13-9 lead at the break thanks to a try by winger S’bu Nkosi which was converted by Curwin Bosch, who also kicked two penalties. The Bulls responded with three successful penalties from the boot of Morne Steyn.

Two more penalties from Bosch within 15 minutes of the restart saw the Sharks stretch their lead to 19-9.

However, the Bulls fought back and Botha crashed over in the 63rd minute and Steyn’s conversion saw the Sharks’ lead reduced to just three points.

A penalty by replacement flyhalf Smith at the death saw the game tied at 19-19 but it went into extra time after he missed a chance to grab the win just minutes after the final hooter.

Smith and Bosch both missed opportunities in extra time before Botha grabbed his second try of the match with Smith adding the extras to seal the win.

This was the Bulls’ first Currie Cup title in 12 years as they aim to rediscover the fear factor that saw them win three Super Rugby titles.

It was also the Bulls’ second successive trophy after they also secured the Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked tournament in November last year.