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Super Rugby top scorer Pollard snatches victory for Bulls

Super Rugby's leading points scorer Handre Pollard slotted a 79th-minute penalty Saturday to secure a 19-16 away win for the Bulls over the Sharks in an error-riddled South African showdown.
The penalty was awarded after a scrum close to the Sharks' 22-meter line in which the home side had the put-in only to be shoved backwards.
Springbok fly-half Pollard also kicked four penalties for a 14-point match total and 96 for the season, 32 more than second-place Hayden Parker from the Tokyo-based Sunwolves.
Jesse Kriel with a try was the other scorer for the Bulls as they put a 36-point thrashing by the Chiefs in Pretoria last weekend behind them after leading 6-3 at half-time.
The result confirmed the dominance of the Bulls over the Sharks with eight victories and a draw from the last nine matches between them in the southern hemisphere competition.
But the outcome in Durban spoilt a special day for Sharks and Springbok prop Tendai Mtawarira, who made a record-equalling 156th Super Rugby appearance for a South African.
The record was held by retired Bulls hooker Adriaan Strauss and Mtawarira, popularly known as 'The Beast', can break it next Friday when the Sharks play the Lions in Johannesburg.
It was also a sad day for veteran Bulls hooker Schalk Brits, who was sent off for the first time in a 17-year senior career spanning South African and English clubs.
He was red-carded, along with rival hooker Akker van der Merwe, after they exchanged punches following a maul 17 minutes into the second half.
While Pollard boasted a five-from-five goal-kicking record, Sharks fly-half Robert du Preez succeeded with only two of his five attempts.
Du Preez kicked two penalties and his younger brother, No. 8 Daniel, and center Andre Esterhuizen scored a try each for the Durban outfit.
The game will be a candidate for the worst Super Rugby match of the season with endless stoppages owing to handling errors and foul play in hot, humid conditions.
The victory placed three-time champions the Bulls fifth in the combined standings, seven points behind leaders and title-holders the Crusaders.
The Sharks are one place and one point below the Bulls, but two home defeats already this season against South African rivals could come back to haunt them.
"We could have won this match -- we had sufficient scoring opportunities to do so," admitted Sharks center and official man-of-the-match Lukhanyo Am.


© 2019 AFP
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