Bok's injury mars Sharks' win over Zebre
REPORT: The Sharks were forced to work hard for their 38-6 win over Zebre at Kings Park on Saturday.
The Sharks, who headed into the fixture as clear favourites, scored five tries for the bonus-point victory.
*To recap all the action CLICK HERE!!!
However, despite the positive result, Sharks fans would be really concerned as the Durban side lost Springbok wing Makazole Mapimpi just ahead of the kick-off and his teammate Aphelele Fassi left the field at the break with what appeared to be an ugly ankle injury.
The hosts had to be patient, leading just 10-6 at half-time thanks to a Henco Venter try.
The Sharks kicked on after the break, with Bongi Mbonambi going over before a pair of yellow cards proved costly for the previously stubborn visitors.
Khutha Mchunu and Grant Williams both touched down during Potu Leavasa’s time in the sin bin while Curwin Bosch – who kicked 13 points – went over in Jacopo Bianchi’s absence.
The result lifts the Sharks back to the top of the South African Shield and sixth in the overall table.
The Sharks were forced into a late change to their starting XV, with Makazole Mapimpi replaced by Yaw Penxe, but they opened the scoring when Venter wriggled over in the eighth minute, with Bosch adding the extras after Antonio Rizzi had missed an earlier penalty for Zebre.
Perhaps inspired by Italy’s shock Six Nations win over Wales in Cardiff earlier in the day, Zebre put up an impressive defence to prevent the Sharks from adding to their early advantage and a Bosch penalty was as much as the hosts could muster before Rizzi got the visitors off the mark in the 31st minute.
Compounding the pre-match loss of Mapimpi, the Sharks also saw Aphelele Fassi limp off and some poor execution further hindered their progress, with Rizzi reducing the arrears to 6-10 before half-time – a vast improvement on their 0-33 deficit at the same stage against the Stormers last Sunday.
The Sharks set about widening the gap early in the second half and, after knocking on the door a couple of times, Mbonambi forced his way over, leaving Bosch with a relatively straightforward conversion.
A subsequent Williams try was chalked off for a forward pass in the build-up but Zebre lost Leavasa to the sin bin and the Sharks capitalised on the man advantage when replacement prop Mchunu crossed from close range and Bosch made it 24-6.
The bonus point arrived with Zebre still down to 14 men – the ball was spread wide to Werner Kok, who closed in on the visitors’ line before passing inside to Williams to finish.
Bosch converted and then touched down himself after Bianchi saw yellow, adding the extras to his own try.
Man of the match: Our nod goes to Sharks flank Henco Venter. The stalwart was in fine form, he scored the Sharks’ first try and seemed to be involved in everything for the home side
Tries: Venter, Mbonambi, Mchunu, Williams, Bosch
Cons: Bosch 5
Pens: Rizzi 2
Yellow cards: Potu Junior Leavasa (Zebre, 54 – repeated infringements), Iacopo Bianchi (Zebre, 68 – Deliberate offside), Kerron van Vuuren (Sharks, 80 – No arms tackle)
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Jeremy Ward
Zebre: 15 Michelangelo Biondelli, 14 Jacopo Trulla, 13 Erich Cronjé, 12 Timothy O’Malley, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Nicolò Casilio, 8 Renato Giammarioli (captain), 7 Iacopo Bianchi, 6 Luca Andreani, 5 Liam Mitchell, 4 Potu Junior Leavasa, 3 Ion Neculai, 2 Massimo Ceciliani, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Tommaso Di Bartolomeo, 17 Juan Pitinari, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Andrea Zambonin, 20 Maxime Mbandà, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Giulio Bisegni
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Morne Ferreira
TMO: Quinton Immelman