The Sharks have recorded a nail-biting 18-13 victory over los Jaguares at Kings Park in a game where attractive, low-error rugby was definitely not the winner.
With 17 handling errors apiece, neither side managed to get on top of their own error rate in this game and much of it was spent with the teams feeling each other out in between the two 22 metre lines, running into opposition players and knocking the ball on willy-nilly. Uncompromising gain-line defence from the visitors had the Sharks scratching their heads for much of the game, with new flyhalf Inny Radebe certainly looking short of ideas when he did have the ball in hand.
The Sharks got off to a decent start when Cobus Reinach ripped the ball out of a Jaguares hand in a tackle and sprinted down the right hand flank for a great solo score. Poor discipline from the Sharks, though, handed the advantage back to the Jaguares, who went ahead 6-5 before missing two further penalty attempts in quick succession. The Sharks were rewarded for a rare period of constructive play when Curwin Bosch put over a penalty ten minutes before the break and they turned holding a slender 8-6 advantage, with Bosch coming within inches of scoring as the half drew to a close.
A strong start to the second period saw Andre Esterhuizen score a great try in the 43rd minute; Bosch’s conversion took the Sharks out to 15-6, but they battled to kick on from there and were unable to score a third try for a bonus point, despite the Jaguares being reduced to 14 after Nicolas Sanchez tackled Inny Radebe without the ball. In fact, it was the visitors who made a game of it when captain Gus Creevey burrowed over despite the numerical disadvantage; at 13-15 down, the Jaguares were looking at an upset.
Credit to Thomas du Toit, though, who came on and put in a number of dominant scrum displays, one of which won the penalty that ultimately sealed the result. Bosch made no mistake and the Sharks will go into their bye week having made up vital ground on their conference rivals.
Sharks (18): Tries Reinach, Esterhuizen. Conversion Bosch. Penalties Bosch (2)
Jaguares (13): Try Creevy. Conversion Excurra. Penalties Sanchez (2)