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Bulls snatch Super 14 title
Bryan Habana scores after the siren to see the Bulls to a thrilling 20-19 final win.
Last Modified: 19 May 2007 16:00 GMT

Pipped at the post: Bulls' Jaco van der Westhuyzen celebrates by standing on the goal posts [EPA]

Bryan Habana, Springbok winger, scored a try two minutes into injury-time to lead the Northern Bulls to a thrilling win over the Coastal Sharks for their first Super 14 title, and the first for a South Afrcian side, at Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Saturday.
Bulls flyhalf Derick Hougaard added the conversion from next to the uprights to spoil the party for the 54,000 home fans who turned out to witness the first all-South African Super 14 final as the Bulls triumphed 20-19 after trailing 10-14 at the break and 13-19 with just minutes to play.

"I'm speechless," said Habana.

"I think it was a really gutsy performance from our guys, we showed that never say die spirit, something we've displayed all season."

Victor Matfield, Bulls captain, added: "They would have been worthy winners, they outplayed us for 79 minutes."

Sharks fullback Percy Montgomery put his side on the board after nine minutes with a penalty, but four minutes later the Bulls took the lead with a converted try by No 8 Pierre Spies.

The Bulls loose forward sliced between Sharks defenders AJ Venter and Waylon Murray to score under the posts after his captain Victor Matfield had opted to kick for touch to set up a lineout instead of going for goal after winning a penalty inside the home side's half.

However the Sharks hit back almost immediately through winger JP Pietersen who intercepted a pass from Spies on halfway to run 50 metres to score his 12th try of the season.

Montgomery missed the conversion, which would later prove crucial, but put his side back into the lead on the half-hour with his first penalty of the afternoon.

Close match

Hougaard edged the Bulls closer with a three-pointer a few minutes later, but the Sharks finished the half the stronger outfit with a further three points from Montgomery to make it 14-10 at the break.

In the second stanza, the Sharks battled to find the rhythm that saw them dominate the first half, and it was no surprise when the Bulls won a penalty inside the home side's 22 metre area on 60 minutes, with Hougaard booting the penalty over to make the score 14-13.

The rejuvenated Bulls continued to pile on the pressure, but excellent tackling by the home side kept the men from Pretoria out and then with two minutes to go, Sharks replacement lock forward Albert van den Berg found a way through the Bulls defence for his team's second try to take the score to 19-13 and a likely Sharks victory.

Last ditch effort

Francois Steyn missed the crucial conversion that would have put the Sharks eight points clear, and with the last move of the game, Habana went over next to the posts after beating two defenders, with Hougaard's conversion sealing a magical one-point win for the visitors.

"All credit to the players, they weresimply awesome," said Heyneke Meyer, Bulls coach.

"They showed a never say die attitude and with a minute to go I knew we could still do it.   

"I feel for the Sharks, they were very unlucky at the end - they were the better side on the day."

Source:
Agencies
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