robdylan

Sharks (just) prevail in Nelspruit arm wrestle


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 25 Jul 2011 at 09:12
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

The Sharks appeared lethargic and underdone as they battled to a somewhat fortuitous 23-22 victory over the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday night. With the hosts holding a 6-point advantage deep into the final quarter, it was only a late try by rookie prop Dale Chadwick that managed to spare the Sharks’ blushes on the night.

The Sharks started brightly and appeared to be well on top, with Marcell Coetzee making strong inroads with ball in hand. A little bit of over-excitement, coupled with some strange decisions at scrumhalf Ross Cronje, saw them unable to turn their dominance into points and when Coetzee took a hard smack to the nose within the first ten minutes, the big loose forward started a rolling game of “touchline tag” with Frana Kleinhans, which did little to aid continuity. It sounds as though Coetzee’s nose was, in fact, broken and the ongoing efforts to stem the flow of blood saw Kleinhans replace him a total of three times during the match.

That said, the combination of some fierce competition from the Pumas forwards at the breakdown and ill-discipline from the Sharks pack saw the home side start to gain parity and soon after, ascendancy at the point of contact, with numerous attacking phases for the Sharks breaking down thanks to either turnovers or a penalties. Former Sharks Academy flyhalf Tiaan Marx kicked pretty much everything going, but fortunately for the Sharks, their own flyhalf, Fred Michalak, was on song too and kept touch. The Frenchman appeared to have broken the deadlock with a superb individual try on 33 minutes, but it was all in vain as some lackadaisical defending from the kick-off saw Coenie van Wyk score one of his own down the right-hand touchline a minute later. Matters were all square at 16-all with halftime looming, until the Sharks raised the ire of Mark Lawrence one time too many and were rewarded with a yellow card to hooker Craig Burden. Burden, it must be said, was the victim of a number of team indiscretions at the breakdown, with his simply being the final straw.

Marx goaled the resulting penalty for the Pumas to take a 19-16 lead at the break.

Predictably, the second half started poorly for the Sharks, with the absence of Burden keenly felt in the opening exchanges. The Sharks scrum, which had looked solid up to that point, began to crumble and no fewer than three tight heads were conceded as the Pumas grew in confidence. Marx extended the lead to 6 points on 47 minutes, but the visitors were, for the most part, resolute on defence and prevented the Mpumulanga team from getting any further ahead. With the minutes ticking by and the desperation mounting, the Sharks boys dug deep and managed to drive Chadwick over the line in the 72nd minute, with Michalak’s fifth successful kick of the night handing his side a 1-point lead. Some frantic defence in the last 5 minutes saw of wave after wave of attack from the hosts, with the Sharks holding their nerve to emerge with the narrowest of wins and one which, if we’re perfectly honest, they hardly deserved based on the play dished up.

That said, good teams make their own luck and while it’s far too early to say whether this young Sharks team is a good one, the fact that they managed to dig deep and win ugly in a match that had “embarrassing upset” written all over it on the hour mark, is an encouraging sign for management and fans alike. The Sharks will know that the much hackneyed “get-out-of-jail card” has now been played and that afar, far better performance will be required against the Cheetahs on Saturday if they are to maintain their unbeaten status in this year’s Currie Cup.

Scorers:

Pumas 22 – Try: Coenie van Wyk. Conversion: Tiaan Marx. Penalties: Marx (5).

Sharks 23 – Tries: Frederic Michalak, Dale Chadwick. Conversions: Michalak (2). Penalties: Michalak (3).



2 Comments

  • I remember thinking: ‘Please let us not be added to the Pumas’ shelf of big sculps with the Bulls and Lions.’ :oops:

  • Comment 1, posted at 25.07.11 09:41:58 by JarsonX Reply
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  • We won in the end, all ended well. Cheetahs didn’t play well against the Bulls. Yes they went into the lead and looked dominant in the first half, but to concede such an advantage and lose the game after such dominance is not a mark of a champion side.

    Sharks must be wary of the Cheetah-boogey as well as the backlash of the defeat this weekend.

  • Comment 2, posted at 25.07.11 20:31:03 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
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    The Sharks SharkieVodacom Cup player
     

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