Fourteen-man Sharks survive Griquas' late surge
REPORT: The Sharks opened their Currie Cup campaign with a hard-fought victory over the Griquas on Wednesday.
However, the 24-23 win was marred by a red card to Samoan international Olajuwon Noa for a dangerous tackle.
* To recap all the action CLICK HERE!!!
The Durbanites were in control of the contest, leading 18-6, before Noa – among half a dozen Currie Cup debutants in the home team – was handed his marching orders in the 61st minute.
The visitors capitalised right away with Johan Retief scoring a TMO-awarded driving maul try, which Zander du Plessis converted to close the gap to 18-13.
The Sharks showed good composure from there, with replacement scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba and Du Plessis trading penalty goals to leave the game on a knife-edge at 21-16 with seven minutes remaining.
A clutch second penalty goal by Nohamba pushed the Sharks’ lead out to eight and ultimately proved decisive with Sango Xamlashe scoring a converted try in the final play of the game, the Peacock Blues just running out of time.
Both teams had opportunities to put early points on the board but it remained scoreless after an error-strewn opening quarter. It took until the 28th minute for the game to come alive courtesy of Jordan Chait, who carved through the defence and linked up with halfback partner Cameron Wright on his inside, who cantered in for the opening try.
The young Sharks flyhalf added the conversion, to go along with a penalty goal seven minutes earlier after Eddie Davids had buckled under the pressure of a powerful scrum, to put the hosts up 10-0.
A lapse in concentration saw the Sharks put themselves under pressure when they failed to secure the ensuing restart and conceded a penalty, with Du Plessis popping over a regulation kick to open Tafel Lager Griquas’ account. The Peacock Blues finished the stronger of the sides, forcing the Sharks into conceding a string of penalties, with Du Plessis doubling their tally three minutes before the break.
The visitors would’ve had the lead as well as momentum going into the second half if not for three missed kicks at goal. As it stood, the Sharks held a 10-6 at half-time and scored two minutes after the break, Dan Jooste breaking off from a driving maul and powering his way over.
Murray Koster was unsuccessful with the difficult conversion but slotted a penalty goal in the 52nd minute to stretch the scoreline out to 18-6, Griquas struggling to cope with the increased tempo of the Sharks.
Then came the game-changing moment with referee Rasta Rasivhenge giving new Sharks No 7 Noa his marching orders and setting up a thrilling final quarter, with the men in Black and White doing just enough to give coach Etienne Fynn a razor-thin win in his first match at the helm.
Man of the match: For the Sharks, Thembelani Bholi and Mpilo Gumede made noteworthy contributions. While for Griquas Rynhardt Jonker was a standout performer. However, our nod goes to Sharks hooker Dan Jooste, who did well in open play. He scored a try and secured a crucial steal, really busy all over the park.
Tries: Wright, Jooste
Pen: Chait, Koster, Nohamba
Tries: Forwood, Xamlashe
Cons: Du Plessis 2
Pens: Du Plessis 2
Red card: Olajuwon Noa (Sharks, 61 – Dangerous tackle, direct contact to the head)
Sharks: 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Werner Kok, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 Jordan Chait, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Mpilo Gumede, 7 Olajuwon Noa, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Dan Jooste, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Jason Alexander, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Corne Rahl, 20 Josh Moon, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Murray Koster, 23 Marnus Potgieter.
Griquas: 15 Ashlon Davids, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 Christopher Hollis, 12 Rynhardt Jonker, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Zander du Plessis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruan Steenkamp (captain), 7 Siba Qoma, 6 Niel Otto, 5 Derik Pretorius, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Janu Botha, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Eddie Davids.
Replacements: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Kudzwai Dube, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Johan Retief, 20 Michael Amiras, 21 Raegan Oranje, 22 Theo Boshoff, 23 Sango Xamlashe.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Paul Mente, Yanga Sotshangane
TMO: Quinton Immelman
*Additional Source: SA Rugby