The Sharks brought Griquas down to earth, literally, with a bang, when they scored an emphatic 44-15 Absa Currie Cup win in Kimberley on Saturday.
Rugby 365 reports that the seven-tries-to-two win was every bit as emphatic as the scoreline suggest, ensuring the Sharks moved up to third place on the standings.
It was a warm afternoon in Kimberley despite the wind that got behind the Sharks in the first half. The field was firm and dry – frost burnt to deck the players in a confetti of loose grass but a good playing surface. It was perfect for rugby and the first half really turned it on as both sides ran at every opportunity – the Sharks more effectively and so they led 25-8 at half-time. The gap need not have been as big as that but for a horrible misjudgement by Bjorn Basson, a wing/fullback playing centre.
With the score 8-5 to Griquas, Basson broke brilliantly with speedster MJ Mentz on his left and open. But the tall centre chose to cut away from Mentz to find some non-existent path on the inside and Jacques Botes nailed him. It was a serious error of judgement.
The second half did not live up to expectations. The idea of the bonus point is to encourage teams to keep playing in search of four tries – winning or losing teams, but when the Sharks got their fourth try and bonus point there was little left in the game, except three tries, two of them runaways when the other side looked about to score.
In the first half the Sharks conceded four penalties to one by Griquas and in the match as a whole 11 to three. Botes was the first Shark penalised. That was at a tackle and Conrad Barnard goaled well. 3-0 after two minutes.
But Botes soon made amends. The Sharks went through phases from a line-out and Botes burst past Stephan Gerber to score quite a way in but the conversion attempt stayed out. 5-3 after four minutes.
They could well have scored again when speedy Chris Jordaan had an overlap on the right wing but Waylon Murray’s pass to him was ruled forward.
Instead the Griquas scored next – a classic, rehearsed move from a scrum. The ball went 8-9-15-14-9, that is Heinrich Stride – Sarel Pretorius – Barnard – Gavin Passens and then back inside to Pretorius who juggled, caught and scored. It was an excellent try. 8-5 after 20 minutes.
After Basson’s ghastly lapse, the Sharks won a turnover off him at the tackle and broke out. They sent Jordaan speeding down the acres and he looked certain to score when suddenly, miraculously, lock Wayne van Heerden felled him just short of the line. It must be the greatest tackle of the 2008 Currie Cup – a special moment. From that tackle Griquas again tried to attack till the ball was kicked out after a long, exciting passage of play.
But from the line-out the Sharks battered again and again Botes finished it off as he forced his way through Pretorius. 10-8 after 25 minutes and four minutes later Stefan Terblanche made it 13-8 with a long penalty when Riaan Viljoen was penalised at a tackle.
After a poor clearance by Tobie Botes, the Sharks again battered at the line and great hands by Skipper Badenhorst sent Murray over in the right corner. 18-8 after 34 minutes.
The next try was a glorious moment. Jacques Botes picked up a neglected ball at the back of a tackle and gave to prop Deon Carstens. The big man set off, sold a dummy and after racing 40 metres down the middle of the field scored a try under the crossbar. Monty Dumond converted. 25-8
That, in a sense was the match. The Sharks were going to win and they had their bonus point, thank you very much.
The Sharks scored early in the second half from a scrum. They bunched in the centre and Dumond took the ball to the gain line before giving to Murray who cut through. He could have scored himself, but gave to Riaan Swanepoel, a former Kimberleyite, and he scored with a swanky dive. Dumond converted. 32-8.
The Sharks could well have scored when they set Swanepoel running free. He had a lot of support – perhaps too much – for he hung on into the tackle and a golden chance was lost. Not that it mattered.
BJ Botha came off the bench.
When Griquas knocked on, Steven Sykes picked up and charged. Dumond popped a little pass to Jordaan and the young wing scored. Dumond converted. 39-8.
The Sharks made a penalty into a five-metre line-out. They mauled but the Griquas shoved them back. The Sharks let the ball go to their backs but things were not orderly and Riaan Viljoen grabbed the ball and broke free. He slung a long pass to Basson on his left and the centre played like the wing he really is by speeding down the field and beating Terblanche to go round to the posts for the try. 39-15.
The siren went but the Griquas were still trying to score. They passed to their left but the pass went awry and Jordaan got hold of it to run 70 metres or more down the field for the final score.
It was really the Sharks pack that made the big victory possible and one of the outstanding members of that pack was big, strong flank Jean Deysel who is so hard to keep corralled.
Tries: Pretorius, Basson
For the Sharks:
Tries: Botes 2, Murray, Carstens, Swanepoel, Jordaan 2
Cons: Dumond 3
Griquas: 15 Conrad Barnard (vice-captain), 14 Gavin Passens 13 Bjorn Basson, 12 Riaan Viljoen, 11 MJ Mentz, 10 Tobie Botes, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Heinrich Stride, 7 Stephan Gerber, 6 Gareth Krause, (captain), 5 Jacques Lombaard, 4 Wayne van Heerden, 3 Ruaan du Preez, 2 Hans van Dyk, 1 Albertus Buckle.
Replacements: 16 James van der Walt, 17 Dean Hopp, 18 Cilliers Coetzer, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Dougie Helmuth, 21 Lafras Uys, 22 Eagon Seconds.
Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Chris Jordaan, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Riaan Swanepoel, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Monty Dumond, 9 Scott Mathie, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller (captain), 4 Alistair Hargreaves, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Skipper Badenhorst, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 BJ Botha, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Andries Strauss, 22 Andrew Borgen.