It was a case of same again for the Cell C Sharks XV, as they overcame a slow and error-strewn first-half performance to comfortably beat a young Western Province XV in Saturday’s Vodacom Cup match in Durban. The fact that the side failed to register a four-try bonus in a 25-7 win is the only blemish on a job otherwise well done.
Let’s not beat around the bush; the Sharks appear to boast better depth across most positions than Province do these days and on paper, at least, one would have expected the Sharks pack – one which would not be out of place in a Currie Cup match – to dominate proceedings. The half-time score of 7-all would thus have been somewhat disappointing. Centre Andre Esterhuizen scored his second try in as many matches as early as the ninth minute, but those 7 points (with Fred Zeilinga’s conversion) were the only ones the Sharks XV managed to convert in a half where their own errors prevented further scoring.
Despite a creaking scrum and a misfiring line-out, Province somehow managed to “smokkel” an equalising score late in the half, after wing JP Lewis pounced on a good through kick after a rare breakout.
The Sharks XV’s scrum dominance came to the fore in the second period, as Zeilinga converted a penalty from that phase to retake the lead. Keegan Daniel and Jacques Botes then scored tries, which together with a conversion and further penalty from Zeilinga sealed the result. Much like their Super Rugby counterparts’ win against the Hurricanes a few weeks back, though, this Sharks XV team will, I’m sure, feel that they deserved a bigger win (with a bonus point) as reward for their up-front dominance.
Cell C Sharks XV (25) – Tries: Andre Esterhuizen, Keegan Daniel, Jacques Botes; Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2); Penalties: Zeilinga (2).
Western Province XV (7) – Try: Jean-Paul Lewis; Conversion: Gary van Aswegen.Tweet