Sharks outmuscle Cheetahs in spiteful encounter
CURRIE CUP MATCH REPORT: The Sharks left Bloemfontein with a full house of five league points, after outmuscling the Cheetahs in a spiteful Round Seven fixture.
Outscoring their hosts by five tries to four, the Sharks won 47-30 in an entertaining game.
However, sporadic outbursts of nastiness – including an incident at the final whistle which may justify further scrutiny – marred the outing.
* Did you miss the action? To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
Having not featured in the competition since their 31-32 loss to Western Province a few weeks ago – due to match cancellations and back-to-back battles against the British & Irish Lions – Sean Everitt’s men emerged from the shadows and issued a reminder of their championship quality as they halted their hosts’ two-match winning streak.
Flyhalf Curwin Bosch starred for the visitors, scoring 24 points in a complete performance to steer his side to their first win in the City of Roses since 2018 and the top of the standings.
The Sharks played with great intensity, a by-product of their aforementioned showdowns with the touring Northern Hemisphere all-stars, and took their opportunities to put five tries past the Cheetahs.
Rosko Specman, back from a stint with the Stormers and his time with the Springboks, was phenomenal for the hosts and made an immediate impact with a big tackle from the kick-off, which led to the visitors conceding a penalty, but captain Ruan Pienaar shanked his kick at goal.
The first line break of the match by centre Siya Masuku provided the momentum for the opening try, which saw centre David Brits execute a deft grubber for Specman to dot down in the sixth minute. Again, Pienaar’s radar was off.
Both teams struggled with their discipline early on but it was the hosts who paid the price as Pienaar was sent packing in the 16th minute for killing the ball.
Strong, aggressive defence and a vital turnover by Aluluthu Tshakweni allowed the hosts to repel the first wave of attack but the visitors were in moments later through the ever-present Werner Kok, who burst clear from a ruck after a memorable break by loosehead prop Ntuthuko Mchunu. Bosch popped over the easy conversion to put his team in the lead at the close of the first quarter.
Moonlighting at scrumhalf with Pienaar still serving his 10 minutes in the sin bin, Specman made a scintillating break from the back of a scrum that pressured the Sharks into a penalty infringement. Flyhalf Brandon Thomson stepped up to slot a long-range penalty to regain the lead for the Cheetahs.
The men in Black and White hit back in style as Bosch linked up with Marnus Potgieter on a kick-return. The rookie wing blasted past three defenders and pulled the last man before offloading to scrumhalf Grant Williams, who ran in unopposed under the posts to make it 14-8 after 30 minutes.
A returning Pienaar and Bosch traded penalty goals before a hot-stepping Thaakir Abrahams – who eluded four would-be tacklers – and exceptional handing led to a stunning and timely seven-pointer by Anthony Volmink, which gave the Sharks a 24-11 lead at half-time.
A shotgun start to the second half by the visitors enabled Bosch to stretch the lead to 16 in the 43rd minute. With the game slipping away, the Cheetahs needed to score next and did through Thomson, who sidestepped and went over after a counter-rucking turnover. Pienaar added the extras to close the gap to 27-18.
The fightback continued as Masuku set off on a magnificent counter-attacking run to leave the Sharks scrambling. Quick ball to Clayton Blommetjies saw the fullback stab a grubber through and Duncan Saal finished superbly for an unconverted try.
Bosch cooled the Cheetahs down with an offload that freed up Mchunu, with the big man rumbling ahead before sending Williams away for his second, which Bosch converted. The champagne rugby continued to flow as a piece of pure “SpeckMagic” made it 34-30, the red-hot Specman blazing over for his brace and replacement flyhalf Reinhardt Fortuin slotting the conversion.
A composed and clinical Sharks side stayed in control and after Bosch had slotted a booming penalty goal, hooker Kerron van Vuuren scored a converted try from the back of a driving maul to push the lead out to 44-30 with nine minutes remaining.
A final three-pointer by Bosch capped off an impressive afternoon by the flyhalf and the KwaZulu-Natalians.
For the Cheetahs
Tries: Specman, Thomson, Saal, Specman
Cons: Pienaar, Fortuin
Pens: Thomson, Pienaar
For the Sharks
Tries: Kok, Williams 2, Volmink, Van Vuuren
Cons: Bosch 5
Pens: Bosch 4
Yellow card: Ruan Pienaar (Cheetahs, 16 – repeated infringements, offside)
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 David Brits, 12 Siya Masuku, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain), 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Jeandré Rudolph, 5 Jean Droste, 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Hencus van Wyk, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Aluluthu Tshakweni
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Victor Sekekete, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Zinedine Booysen, 22 Reinhardt Fortuin, 23 Chris Smit
Sharks: 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Werner Kok, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Dylan Richardson, 6 James Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Mpilo Gumede, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Jeremy Ward
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Local appointments
TMO: Paul Mente