It may have taken them a half to get going, but Deon Kayser’s Sharks XV got their Vodacom Cup campaign off to a great start in East London on Friday night, scoring a 46-24, bonus point win over the Border Bulldogs.
Details are always a little sketchy when it comes to this sort of untelevised game and the reports I’ve read seem unable to agree on exactly who scored all of the tries; a man that I trust very strongly, intrepid reporter Ludz, was on the scene and I’ll go with his version of events, since he’s a far more knowledgeable rugby man than many of the professionals sent to cover these games anyway!
On a very windy evening, the Sharks XV battled with cohesion in the first half. An early try to fullback Hansie Graaff was converted by Fred Zeilinga to give the men in black a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, but it was the hosts who struck back – three times in fact – to shock the visitors and build up a handy lead over the course of the next half hour. Lock Wandile Putuma and veteran winger Lolo Waka scored before the break, which together with two conversions and a penalty from centre Jeff Taljaard saw Border lead 17-10 at half time, Zeilinga having knocked over a three-pointer of his own just before the siren sounded.
Outside centre Makazole Maphimpi scored Border’s third just four minutes after the restart and at 24-10 up and chasing a bonus point, alarm bells started to ring. Could this result seriously go the wrong way?
The Sharks XV clearly enjoy toying with their prey, however. Five tries followed to the visitors, with lock Peet Marais and outside center Neil Maritz scoring within five minutes of each other to bring the team back within touch, although Zeilinga’s first miss of the night (from the conversion attempt of Maritz’s score) prevented them from quite drawing level. It was not to matter, though, as the front row club got in on the action, with new boy Thomas du Toit scoring within 14 minutes of making his first Sharks appearance. Wiehahn Herbst followed up with his try shortly afterwards, leaving it to center Andre Esterhuizen to dot down the sixth.
Zeilinga converted all three, and added a further penalty to take his tally for the night to 16, just a point behind the current leading scorers in the Vodacom Cup competition.
Things get a lot tougher for the Sharks XV this week, as they play Western Province in Durban on Saturday.
Border Bulldogs – Tries: Wandile Putuma, Lolo Waka, Makazole Maphimpi. Conversions: Jeffrey Taljaard (3). Penalty goal: Taljaard.
Cell C Sharks XV – Tries: Hansie Graaff, Peet Marais, Neil Maritz, Thomas du Toit, Wiehahn Herbst, Andre Esterhuizen. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (5). Penalty goals: Zeilinga (2).Tweet