Sharks maul Pumas in late rally
Sharks maul Pumas in late rallySHARE
The Sharks, coming from behind and scoring 21 points in the final quarter, recorded a 34-17 win over the Pumas in their Currie Cup Round Two encounter in Durban on Friday.
Outscoring the visitors by four tries to two, the defending champions retained their unbeaten start to the season in a game that did not reach any great heights till the late rally came.
Three of the Sharks' tries came from line-outs and mauls close to the Pumas' line.
And credit must also go to the Sharks for keeping their composure and adjusting to the rulings of a referee that gave the appearance that he was guessing throughout the contest.
While his rulings may not have favoured either team, Pumas captain Corne Steenkamp did not mince his words in his post-match reaction – suggesting that the Sharks were given quick ball, a privilege that was not afforded the visitors.
The Sharks, based on their final quarter, will be happy that they took a full-house five points away from the game.
Their visitors had made a triumphant start to the competition when they upset the Free State Cheetahs last week and they threatened an upset once more after tries of their own through Frikkie Spies and Renaldo Bothma.
The men from Mpumalanga made a flying start to the game, crossing for the opening try – by Frikkie Spies – after just four minutes.
However, the Sharks only had themselves to blame as scrumhalf Cameron Wright, on his home debut, failed to clear and lock Spies forced his way over after an attacking line-out.
The hosts hit back in the seventh minute when Fred Zeilinga kicked over the first points following a penalty that was conceded for collapsing the scrum.
They had further chances to tick the scoreboard over before the 15-minute mark as Odwa Ndungane was denied a try by the TMO for an elbow in touch and Zeilinga missed a drop-goal attempt.
But the Sharks flyhalf made amends with a superb 51-metre penalty, awarded for holding on against the Pumas, that bounced off the crossbar on its way over.
Zeilinga then missed two kicks before the break, enabling the Pumas to hold on to their 7-6 lead.
However, that changed 42 seconds into the second half when Marais collected a long pass from Zeilinga and dashed into the left corner.
Again the plucky Pumas refused to give in and they sliced the gap to three points moments later courtesy of a penalty from JC Roos, following a penalty at the ruck.
Things got better for them in the 45th minute as Marco Wentzel was sent to the sin-bin after a yellow card for repeated infringements at the breakdown from his teammates.
There was more joy for Jimmy Stonehouse's side in the 50th minute when No.8 Bothma grabbed a second try for the visitors, after escaping a Tonderai Chavhanga tackle to dot down in the right corner.
Patrick Lambie, released by the Springboks earlier in the week, was then introduced in the 57th minute and within seconds of his arrival, the powerful Sharks pack mauled their way over for a second try through Jacques Botes, his 52nd Currie Cup score.
Nine minutes later Mtembu finally broke the shackles to give the Sharks some breathing space when he collected a line-out near the goal-line and took the ball over to extend the lead to 10 points.
And after JC Roos missed a long-range penalty, replacement hooker Hadebe went over the left corner after a line-out maul allowing the Sharks to close out a tough win.
Man of the match: For the Pumas forwards Vincent Koch, with his numerous carries and work on defence, and loose forward Renaldo Bothma, with his general play, were the stand-out members of a willing, but beaten team. Jacques Botes had another workman-like performance and Patrick Lambie seemed to enjoy his second-half spell. However, our award goes to Sharks captain Lubabalo Mtembu, for a mature performance in testing conditions.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Marais, Botes, Mtembu, Hadebe
Cons: Zeilinga, Lambie 3
Pens: Zeilinga 2
For the Pumas:
Tries: Spies, Bothma
Cons: Van Staden, Roos
Yellow card: Marco Wentzel (Sharks, 46 – repeated breakdown offences)
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu (captain), 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 JC Astle, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Johan Meyer, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Hanco Venter, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Lionel Cronjé.
Pumas: 15 JW Bell, 14 Ruwellyn Isbell, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Jerome Pretorius, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 4 Frikkie Spies, 3 DeJay Terblanche, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Uzair Cassiem, 20 Rosco Speckman, 21 JC Roos, 22 Heinrich Steyl.
Referee: Christie du Preez
Assistant referees: Lesego Legoete, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Willie Vos