The Sharks XV mastered sweltering conditions in Wellington to beat the Boland Cavaliers 43-18 (halftime 16-11) in an opening round Vodacom Cup match on Friday.
The visitors showed that their pre-season training in the muggy Durban heat was worthwhile as they more comfortably handled the conditions – especially in the second half – to secure a full five points from the fixture.
Flyhalf Monty Dumond scored 23 points from four conversions and five penalties as the Sharks took the early lead in the South section of the competition.
After a bright opening by Boland the game descended into a litany of errors for the home team as tired bodies and minds committed sloppy mistakes. Still, there were some moments to savour and there was enough to suggest that both teams will be tough to beat as the season progresses.
The Sharks enjoyed more territory in the first half but resolute defence and some questionable options restricted the visitors’ scoring to three penalties by Dumond – in the seventh, 18th and 22nd minutes.
The home side scored the opening try of the match in the 26th minute after superb work by scrumhalf Neil Papier and wing Godwin Damon. Papier broke around the side of a ruck on halfway and made 20-metres before feeding Damon.
The wing sensed he was being closed down and passed back inside to Papier who had continued his run. As he was about to be shut down he slipped the ball back to Damon who sped to the corner to score.
The Sharks were not going to be outdone and returned the favour with an equally audacious try a minute before the break.
Sharks halfback Charl McLeod made a sniping break from deep inside his own half and made 50-metres before he was hauled down. As he was about to be collared he made a well-timed pass to wing Lwazi Nvovo who ran in under the crossbar.
After the break Boland unravelled and the Sharks simply fed off their increasing tally of mistakes. McLeod was always looking for ways to punish Griquas and constantly posed the biggest threat.
It took until the 59th minute to score their second try when wing Chris Jordaan crossed after good work by centre Andries Strauss. Flank Justin Downey added a try seven minutes from the end and replacement lock Michael Rhodes secured the bonus point with a try two minutes later.
Damon scored his second on fulltime for a Boland consolation.
Boland – Tries: Godwin Damon (2). Conversion: Lionel Cornelius. Penalties: Lionel Cornelius (2).
Sharks – Tries: Lwazi Nvovo, Chris Jordaan, Justin Downey, Michael Rhodes. Conversions: Monty Dumond (4). Penalties: Dumond (5).Tweet