Super Rugby: Bulls end Sharks' winning start in 16-16 draw
PRETORIA (AP) A long-range penalty goal from Bulls substitute Tiaan Schoeman ended the Sharks' winning start to the Super Rugby season and earned the hosts a 16-16 draw on Friday.
A largely turgid game sprung to life in the closing stages as Schoeman landed his kick from the halfway line to level the scores with a minute remaining in the South African clash.
The Durban-based Sharks still had a chance to seal a fourth straight win when they were awarded a penalty at the death, but Joe Pietersen tarnished his perfect kicking record by missing a straightforward attempt.
Pietersen had kicked three penalties and a conversion to go with Willie le Roux's try as the Sharks came from 13-3 down to lead 16-13 with 25 minutes to play.
Warrick Gelant scored the Pretoria-based Bulls' solitary try toward the end of the first half after a well-rehearsed set piece, while Francois Brummer kicked two penalties, a conversion and a dropped goal for the hosts.
The Sharks remained top of the South Africa 2 conference, while the draw provisionally moved the Bulls up to second place in the South Africa 1 conference.
Earlier, the Highlanders blew a 30-0 lead in holding out the fast-finishing New South Wales Waratahs 30-26 in a match between the 2014 and 2015 champions.
After ending the Waratahs' title defense in last year's semifinals, the New Zealand-based Highlanders returned to Sydney and looked to have the match clinched midway through the second half.
But four tries in 15 minutes by the Waratahs - three to replacement No. 8 Jed Holloway and one to reserve prop Tom Robertson - put nerves on edge. However, the Highlanders worked the phases and denied the Waratahs any more possession to beat them a third straight time.
The win moved the Highlanders provisionally into first place in the New Zealand Conference, three points ahead of the Chiefs and Hurricanes, who scored five second-half tries to collect a bonus point at the expense of the Western Force, 41-6.
Hurricanes captain Dane Coles, returning from injury for his first match of the season, scored the only try of the first half as his Wellington-based team overcame tenacious defense and handling errors to lead 10-3 at halftime.
The Hurricanes produced long-range raids in the second half and the Force eventually buckled, yielding five more tries in the space of 20 minutes.
Six Super Rugby games were scheduled to take place in five different countries on Saturday.