The Sharks maintained their position at the top of the log when they beat the Valke 44-19 (half-time 20-5) in an Absa Currie Cup game at a windy Barnard Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
SuperRugby reports that the Sharks were first on the scoreboard though a Ruan Pienaar penalty in the third minute followed two minutes later by a try by centre-cum-wing Waylon Murray, who finished off a move started by a break deep in Shark territory by fullback Monty Dumond.
Prop Patric Cilliers followed shortly afterwards when he barged over after he picked up and drove from a ruck following tight play by the Sharks’ forwards from a lineout and it looked like the Valke might be on the receiving end of yet another hiding — in their last three games they lost 95-15 to Western province, 83-14 to the Lions and 59-19 to the Griquas.
Bok wing JP Pietersen then dived over in the right corner for the Sharks’ third try — thanks to some clever play from flyhalf Pienaar where he received a pivot pass from Adi Jacobs that stopped the defence, allowing Pienaar to make a long pass to an unmarked Pietersen on the wing.
The hosts then capitalised on a numbers advantage gained from the sin-binning of Sharks’ centre Francois Steyn for a spear tackle. The home team took a clean ball from a lineout that found its way to captain and centre Hanno Coetzee, who stepped then ghosted through a gap between two forwards standing in midfield, where Steyn probably would have been defending.
It was then the Valke’s turn to play with 14 men when debutant prop Dewald Coetzee was yellow carded for repeated infringements at the ruck just before the break. The Sharks however failed to capitalise initially, until Valke lock Wouter Moore was also given a yellow card for the same offence just as Cotzee came back on.
Bok eigthman Ryan Kankowski scored from a push over (bonus point) try, then Murray grabbed his second after the ball went through the hands from a quickly tapped penalty.
The Valke responded with a brilliant try from a set piece move that saw fullback Johan Jackson cutting through the opposition defence like a knife through butter to dive over next to the upright.
Replacement prop Jannie du Plessis dragged a few defenders to dot down, then replacement centre Franco Booysen snuck through before running 30 metres to score in his debut game for the Valke as the teams continued the tit-for-tat try spree.
Valke coach Rudy Joubert had said before the game that his team’s goal was to score four tries for a bonus point but it was not to be, although it was not through a lack of trying. A third yellow card to lock Wouter Moore did not help the cause.
The game did degenerate into a bit of a scrappy affair in the last quarter and it suited the hosts who upped their tempo while the Sharks lost momentum and somewhat fizzled out, save for the last movement of the game where lock Albert van den Berg finished off a passage of play that saw a series of off-loads before the lanky forward stretched out his long arm to score under the poles.
Sharks captain Johann Muler said after the game that “we came here to get five points — it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be, but we’re happy to take it.”
The Sharks travel to Johannesburg to face the Lions next week in the penultimate round of the round robin stage of the competition.
Sharks – Tries: Waylon Murray (2), Patrick Cillier, JP Pietersen, Ryan Kankowski, Jannie du Plessis, Albert van den Berg. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (3) Penalty: Pienaar
Valke – Tries: Hanno Coetzee, Johan Jackson, Franco Booysen Conversions: Jeffrey Perkins (2)Tweet