After a first-half in which they dominated proceedings pretty much throughout, the Sharks were forced to endure a few nervous moments late in the game, before emerging 25-20 winners over the Stormers at Kings Park tonight.
Ref Jaco Peyper, who had a bit of a shocker in the second half, missed a blatant forward pass in awarding Gio Aplon his second try of the evening and that score, with about 10 minutes still to play, brought the visitors back within sight of a victory that looked all but impossible after 45 minutes. The Sharks had scored two good tries in the first half, courtesy of Fred Michalak and Keegan Daniel and added a third shortly after half time, with Lwai Mvovo the receipient. At 25-6 up and hunting a bonus point, there appeared to be little the Stormers could do stem the ferocious Sharks tide.
Built on the back of a forward effort that must count among the best we’ve seen from the Sharks in 12 months or more, Fred Michalak and Pat Lambie combined well to keep the Stormers pinned back, with pressure defence from the big men smashing their Cape rivals back in the tackle with regularity. Supremacy in the scrums – and unlikely parity in the lineout given the height advantage the Stormers held – simply added to the Sharks’ dominance and they were well on track to dot down a fourth when a wayward pass from Michalak – otherwise impressive – saw Aplon sprint away for a 70m score. That try galvanised the visitors and they duly applied stern pressure on the Sharks lineout for the next 10 minuets or so, before Peyper’s brainfart allowed them a sniff and ultimately a bonus point that they probably didn’t deserve.
Credit must go to the Sharks, though, for defending a slender lead for an agonising last 10 minutes to emerge from this contest as worthy victors. Willem Alberts won a deserved man of the match award that, in reality, could have gone to virtually any of the Sharks forwards on the day, such was the effort they put in.
The Sharks –Tries: Frederic Michalak, Keegan Daniels, Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Patrick Lambie(2). Penalties: Patrick Lambie(2)
DHL Stormers – Tries: Gio Aplon(2). Conversion: Peter Grant(2). Penalty: Peter Grant(2).Tweet