Rainbow Cup SA kicks off with wins for Bulls, Sharks

Rugby Ball Laying in Grass (Photo by Franck Seguin/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

The South African pool of the PRO14 Rainbow Cup kicked off on Saturday with the Vodacom Bulls and the Cell C Sharks both registering victories in their respective matches.

The Bulls defeated the Emirates Lions 22-9 at Loftus Versfeld to secure a 12th consecutive home win.

The South African section of the PRO14 Rainbow Cup began on Saturday with the Bulls and Sharks winning their matches. (Photo by Franck Seguin/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Chris Smith kicked five points and scored one of three tries as the Bulls continued their quest to assert their position as the most dominant force in South African rugby.

Zak Burger and Elrigh Louw also crossed the whitewash for the Bulls with Morne Steyn successfully kicking both conversions. Fred Zeilinga responded for the Lions with three penalties.

Since the resumption of rugby in South Africa following suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bulls have won the two domestic tournaments which have been staged: Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup.

Earlier in the day, the Sharks came from 23-12 down at halftime to edge DHL Stormers 33-30 at Newlands in Cape Town.

The Stormers raced into a 17-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes but then they suffered a serious setback after Seabelo Senatla saw red and Willie Engelbrecht was sin-binned.

The Sharks capitalized on their advantage and reduced the deficit to 10 points through a Thomas du Toit try which was converted by Curwin Bosch.

Kade Wolhouter kicked over two penalties for the Stormers to make it 23-7 but a late try from Fez Mbatha saw Sharks go into the break trailing 23-12.

The first quarter of an hour of the second half saw a monumental shift in favour of the Sharks. The Sharks scored hat-trick of tries through Reniel Hugo, all of which Bosch converted, while, amidst all that, the Stormers got reduced to 13 men after Engelbrecht was also sent off.

A late yellow card for Sharks centre Jeremy Ward allowed the Stormers to reduce the gap through a converted try from Damian Willemse and secure a losing bonus point. Despite a late attempt, the Sharks held on to open their campaign with a win.

The results mean the Sharks top the pool with five points followed by the Bulls with four points and the Stormers with three and Lions with zero.

The next round of fixtures will take place on May 8.

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