The Sharks were forced to work hard for their 44-15 win over the Leopards in Rustenburg on Friday evening in their Absa Currie Cup clash, but once they had broken the hosts’ early spirit, it was one way traffic.
Michael Marnewick writes for www.sharksrugby.co.za
Patience and composure saw The Sharks initially contain a competitive Leopards outfit before staging a strong second half performance that led to the six try to two victory and consign the hosts to their fifth straight defeat, and vitally, earn the bonus point win.
The Sharks had to wait until nearly half an hour’s play before they went over for their first try, scrumhalf Charl Mcleod scoring from a quick tap penalty, eluding the defence and getting the try with Hernandez converting. A penalty either side of the try saw the visitors go into the halftime break leading 13-3 with a solitary penalty to Leopards flyhalf Clayton Durand within the first quarter of an hour.
Juan Hernandez gave a good account of himself, playing very well in his first outing. He unfortunately suffered a dead leg early on, played through it but was replaced after halftime.
The Sharks enjoyed the Lions share of territory in the first half, but were sadly unable to capitalise on the opportunities they created.
Guy Cronje came on for Hernandez in the second half and despite the loss of the starting flyhalf, The Sharks got on the board early after a sweeping movement that started as a counter-attack in their own 22, went through five or six pairs of hands and ended with fullback Stefan Terblanche scoring in the corner. The touchline conversion from Cronje hit the post and bounced away, The Sharks taking their lead from 10 points to 15.
The Leopards bounced back with a converted try to wing Jovan Bowles but The Sharks struck again after an exciting break from Lwazi Mvovo which failed to herald immediate results, but led to a penalty and yellow card against hooker Gavin Williamson. The Sharks kicked to touch, won their lineout, and Jacques Botes finished off the move to score his team’s third try. Cronje’s conversion took the lead back to 15 points with The Sharks well in command.
Five minutes later, Charl McLeod scored his second try and crucially, his team’s fourth to register the bonus point in a move involving good work from Chris Jordaan and Ryan Kankowski. Cronje’s conversion was successful.
Things turned from bad to worse for the home side as Craig Burden, on for Skipper Badenhorst, scored his team’s fifth try, with the conversion The Sharks had built up a sizeable – and by then, with 10 minutes to play – an unassailable lead, the margin now 29 points.
Chris Jordaan scored his team’s sixth try in the closing stages of the game, again an effort ending in the corner with the difficult conversion failing as his team took the score to 44-10.
The Leopards managed to score a late consolation try in the corner on the fulltime hooter with the conversion unsuccessful and The Sharks running out worthy 44-15 victors.
With the Blue Bulls losing to the Free State Cheetahs and Griquas causing another upset by beating Western Province, The Sharks five-pointer takes them to second spot on the log with 18 points, five behind log-leaders Griquas (23) and three ahead of Province and the Lions, both on 15.
The Sharks: 44 (13)
Tries: Charl McLeod (2), Stefan Terblanche, Jacques Botes, Craig Burden, Chris Jordaan
Conversions: Juan Hernandez (1), Guy Cronje (3)
Penalties: Juan Hernandez (2)
Leopards: 15 (3)
Tries: Jovan Bowles (2)
Conversions: Clayton Durand (1)
Penalties: Clayton Durand (1)
The Sharks Under 21s won their curtain-raiser 20-14, having led 20-7 going into the final moments before the home scored a late try to earn the bonus point for losing by less than seven points. Captain Tian Meyer and Siya Mdaka the try scorers with Patrick Lambie adding the two conversions and successfully kicking two penalties.Tweet