The Sharks had to rely on their prodigious mauling abilities as well as the lethal finishing of star flank and man-of-the-match Jacques Botes to overcome a valiant Cavaliers 38-13 on Friday night.
Botes scored two crucial tries towards the end of each half as he found himself gleefully in possession at the back of a driving pack of powerful forwards, according to News24.
His first try, coming with just minutes left in the first half, gave the Sharks a narrow 11-10 half-time lead, while his second in the 68th minute, gave the Sharks a nine point advantage and some breathing room.
The scoreline suggests it was an easy win, but in truth it was far from it, with only two late tries from former U-21 captain Riaan Swanepoel and then wing Henno Mentz ensuring the Sharks secured the full five points.
With the Cavaliers not really expected to give the Sharks a run for their money and with the weather looking rather ominous, just over 11 000 faithful fans turned up to show their support and in the first half they would have been very disappointed.
A couple of injury niggles
The Sharks came into the encounter as firm favourites but in the first period they were shocked into submission by the gallant Cavaliers and went into the break with a tenuous one-point lead.
Without vice-captain and flyhalf Brad Barritt, who failed to overcome a couple of injury niggles, the up-and-coming Andrew Borgen got his first start and showed glimpses of the talent he possesses.
However, he was never going to single-handedly get the backline flowing and was replaced by the more experienced Monty Dumond in the 50th minute.
Dumond only joined the Sharks in training on Monday but played at flyhalf for the Sharks on several occasion in last year’s Currie Cup. His added value as an adept goal-kicker was apparent when he came on, slotting two penalties and three conversions.
The second penalty came midway through the second half as Cavaliers captain and centre Piet van Zyl was yellow carded for repeated infringements and soon after him, replacement Angelo Brinkhuys was sent to the bin as well, basically consigning the Cavaliers to defeat.
Traded a penalty each
The Cavaliers managed to get three points back but when Botes went over for his second try to take the score to 22-13 with the successful conversion to follow, it was basically a done deal.
In terms of first half performances which the Sharks would like to forget, the first forty minutes must rank right up there.
During yet another error and penalty riddled start to the match, Sharks scrumhalf Rory Kockott and Boland fullback Justin Peach traded a penalty each with the Sharks rather lucky not to concede more points after a ghastly start.
The Cavaliers eventually made their hosts pay for their inconsistencies with centre Lionel Cornelius ghosting through the Sharks defences in the 20th minute to go over for the opening try under the posts.
The Sharks quickly hit back with a penalty to Kockott but they continued to look like a fish out of water for the next fifteen minutes, failing to find their rhythm or the means to cross the tryline.
Importance of finding rhythm
In the end, they had to turn to their tried and tested rolling maul to come to their rescue, with Botes scoring his first in the 35th minute.
All week the Sharks spoke about the importance of finding some rhythm in this match ahead of the upcoming clash against the Bulls next weekend and so they wouldn’t have been at all impressed with yet another rusty display.
In the end though, it’s another win for them and the five points are in the bag.
Sharks: Tries: Jacques Botes (2), Riaan Swanepoel, Henno Mentz. Conversions: Monty Dumond (3). Penalties: Rory Kockott (2), Dumond (2).
Cavaliers: Tries: Lionel Cornelius. Conversions: Justin Peach. Penalties: Peach, Cornelius.Tweet