Etienne Fynn would have been a relieved man on Friday afternoon after his Sharks under 19 side lived to fight another day by beating long leaders Western Province in a tense game at Kings Park.
The young side have lost agonisingly close games against top opposition on a number of occasions already in this campaign and after a two-point loss to the Lions last week, sorely needed a win to move back into semi-final contention. Despite his side looking dead and buried with time running out, captain Rob du Preez capped off a fine outing by scoring (and converting) the last-minute try that gave his side a 27-25 win and propelled them into fourth place on the standings.
The Sharks dominated the first half – played in atrocious weather conditions – and were rewarded with a try by each winger. Alcino Izaacs, on the left, scored the opener after 15 minutes, with Mike Bernardt on the right narrowly beating du Preez to pounce on a loose ball in the Province in-goal area 20 minutes later. An early Tommy Allan penalty for the hosts, and successful conversions of both tries by du Preez, saw the sharks take a 14-3 lead into the break.
The second half belonged to Province, though, with 22 points courtesy of three tries, two conversions and another Allan penalty seeing them take a 25-20 lead late in the game (after du Preez had added two further penalties for the Sharks). It appeared as though the Sharks’ season would end there and then, but fortunately for all fans of the black and white, the Sharks captain hadn’t quite finished scoring for the day.
The Sharks are now a point behind the Lions, with a game in hand, but face the ultimate test as they travel to face the Blue Bulls this weekend.
Sharks U19 (27): Tries Alcino Izaacs, Michael Bernardt, Rob du Preez. Converions: du Preez (3). Penalties: du Preez (2).
Western Province U19 (25): Tries Brianton Booysen, Johan Kirsten, Juan Gunter. Converions: Tomasso Allan(2). Penalties: Allan (2)