The stadium looked really fantastic as we arrived during the half time break of the under 21 game between the Sharks and the Leopards. That was a game which was won 20-14 by the young Sharks, despite letting the young Leopards in for a score on full time which allowed them to get a bonus point.
During that game, I noticed the trademark bald head of a certain John Mitchell, as he and Deon Kayser kept a beady eye on proceedings. Then came the moment I was looking forward to, Juan Martin Hernandez running onto the field in his Sharks training kit to practise his kicking. I manage to get some good photos of him at work, but was unable to get close to him due to the “moat” around the stadium, nevertheless it was good to see him in a Sharks jersey.
As that game ended, I was getting ready for the main game, I made way towards the tunnel to hopefully get some good pictures of the players as they ran out onto the field. As I was standing on the steps and half-leaning on the railing to get a good shot, the coaches of the Sharks for the game, John Mitchell and Grant Bashford walked out of the tunnel ahead of the players and made their way up the stairs that myself and some other fans were standing on. They both looked like they were not in talking mood, and I thought it was not a good time to arrange an interview with them, it was nevertheless a great occasion to have a chance to be so close to the coaches. John Mitchell looked big, bald, and mean. While I was surprised at how short Mr. Bashford is. As we waited for the players to run out, the drummers played their drums, giving a bit of atmosphere to a game where there were very few spectators. Then Stefan led the Sharks onto the field, I could feel the adrenaline, good times!
As the players ran onto the field, the loudspeakers belted out “I’ve got a feeling that tonight is going to be a good night” by the Black Eyed Peas, as it turned out to be.
I rushed back to my seat to make sure that my job of keeping the Sharksworld faithful informed was done. The first half was a dull affair, especially the first half an hour, the Sharks played too much rugby in their own half but Clayton Durand was strangely off target with the boot and the Sharks were being let off the hook. JMH kicked the first points to open his account in a Sharks jersey, may there be many more. Durand finally kicked a penalty over, after missing two I think to draw the Leopards level. Then came the first of six tries for the Sharks, Charl Mcleod took a quick tap went over, which I did not see because I was on the other side of the stadium and there were no replays to see who had scored, which was a very frustrating aspect of watching/commentating this game. The only other points of the half was a penalty from the boot of Hernandez, the Sharks would have to do better in the 2nd half, and that they did.
My Dad and I decided to move over to the other side of the stadium, and that move paid off, as the Sharks ran the ball from their own 22, with Oom Stef running right past where we were sitting to score. The Sharks were beginning to get the upper hand, but the Leopards hit back with a try of their own to Jovan Bowles, to the delight of the Bulls supporters behind us, enough said about that. The Sharks did not let that get them down and continued to attack with Mvovo making a really good run, which got the Sharks into the opposition 22. Williamson of the Leopards was yellow-carded. The Sharks decided to go for the lineout and Jacques Botes got over to score. The Sharks were really getting the upper hand now, and some really good work by Kankowski leads to Jordaan breaking a few tackles and offloading to Charl McLeod who scored his second try of the night. The Sharks brought on a few replacements, but this did not have any effect on their momentum, from a scrum in the Leopards 22, Burden goes over to score the Sharks’ 5th try. It was starting to look good for the Sharks. Guy Cronje really made a hash of the conversion and that is the one area of his game which really needs a lot of work, but otherwise he had a really good game, directing play very well. The Backline run the Leopards ragged and Jordaan went over in the corner. The Leopards seemed to save their best play for after the hooter went, they kept pressuring the Sharks’ line, which eventually saw Jovan Bowles going over in the corner after it looked suspiciously like his foot goes out of play before he touched down.
The score finished at 44-15 to the Sharks, it was by no means a complete performance by them especially in the first half. They should have put opposition of this quality away by more, but scoring 5 tries in the 2nd half meant that the result was satisfactory and the Sharks got the bonus point they needed from this game. To my disappointment, the Sharks leave the field and seem to be in a hurry to leave the stadium which means they miss an opportunity to mingle with their fans. For some strange reason the Leopards go on a lap of honour, maybe they were just warming down.
All in all, it was a good night and I went home satisfied with the result and the fact that the Sharksworld faithful (and a few more if Rob is to be believed) have got their live updates from the ground. Much thanks must go to my Dad for taking me to the stadium and helping me identify who scored tries as I franticly typed an update. This is war1, signing out, ‘til next time.Tweet