A good bonus point win against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein saw Sean Everitt’s Sharks under 21 side consolidate second position on the competition log.
The side lost only once in the first round of matches, at home to the Blue Bulls, and on Saturday started the second round in much the same vein, scoring a 40-28 win to keep pressure on the Pretoria side. The Bulls still hold an 8-point lead on the log, but have played one game more than the Sharks have.
An early penalty to Free State was quickly erased as number 8 Guy Alexander, in his first start of the campaign, crossed for a try in the fifth minute. Left wing Sizo Maseko piled on the pain further, with two scores of his own in the first half and it was the Sharks who turned with their tails up, leading 27-9 at the break.
Two tries to the hosts shortly after half time were countered by the Sharks’ fourth – courtesy of scrumhalf Hanco Venter – but the drama was far from over for Heimar Williams and his team. Replacement prop Allan Dell, who had only come onto the field 4 minutes earlier, was red carded for an unfortunate spear tackle in the 60th minute and it was to the Sharks’ credit that they managed to hand on to their lead, despite being a man down, for a full quarter of the game. They did concede one further try to the Cheetahs in this period, but overall went on to win comfortably.
A home game against Border this weekend should allow the team to build up further momentum ahead of a tricky game away to the Lions a week later. We’ve just been told that Dell will be unavailable for both of those games, having received a two-week suspension for his tackle.
Cheetahs (28): Tries by Carl van Heerden, Jan de Klerk and Neil Claassen. Two conversions and three penalties by Hanro Louw.
Sharks (40): Tries by Guy Alexander, Sizo Maseko (2) and Hanco Venter. Four penalties and four conversions by Fred Zeilinga