The Sharks travelled to Bloemfontein to collect five points, and returned to Durban today a reasonably happy team, scoring a five point 34 – 20 win over the Cheetahs, and that without their pivot Pat Lambie, and actually, without ever hitting top gear.
The Sharks scored two tries either side of half time, and what is an unlikely occurrence for the Sharks, all the tries were scored by backline players, as each wing, Fred Michalak and Meyer Bosman got over the chalk. JP Pietersen was the first to cross the white line, with what has to be the easiest try he has ever scored.
The Cheetahs hit back through their captain and a few penalties, and the Sharks needed a lucky bounce and chasing Frenchman to have the scores level at half time, at 14 all. Riaan Viljoen responded to a kick by the Cheetahs, by putting a high ball up, only for flanker van der Walt to completely misjudge it and Michalak pouncing on a very fortunate five pointer.
The second half started well for the Sharks with Mvovo cantering over for the Sharks’ third try, and the Cheetahs hanging on by way of penalties, something the Sharks gave them plenty of. The winger was again involved and set up a great try for Bosman to finish, wrapping up both the bonus point and wrapping up the match at the same time.
The Sharks’ discipline again let them down in the game, with Bismarck du Plessis getting his marching orders for infringing at the breakdown, and Willem Alberts coming very close to a yellow after what looked to me like a tip tackle. The amount of penalties conceded is still a concerning factor, and is something that that Sharks will regret after the Stormers game, unless it is cut down completely
On the positive side, it was good to see Bismarck du Plessis, Anton Bresler (again) and Marcell Coetzee (yet again) stepping up in a big match, and one has to commend Fred Michalak for coming into this game, whether on short notice or not, and still have a decent game, putting the backline on the front foot.
Overall, the Sharks can come home pretty satisfied, knowing that they have successfully completed the task at hand, with little or no injuries to speak of, and can now focus on the next, which is to beat the Stormers at home this coming weekend. A lot of hard work will have to go in to keep improving as a whole, should the team make it into the play-offs and play like they did against the Cheetahs, we will wish we never made the play-offs in the first place.
Tries: Adriaan Strauss
Penalties: Riaan Smit (3). Sias Ebersohn (2)
Tries: JP Pietersen, Fred Michalak, Lwazi Mvovo, Meyer Bosman
Conversions: Fred Michalak (4)
Penalties: Fred Michalak (2)