Sharks overcome Griquas bogey
MATCH REPORT: The Sharks defeated a spirited Griquas 30-16 in Kimberley to kick off their Currie Cup season on a positive note.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt earlier in the week said his squad would be fuelled by “new energy” in the absence of several key players who are part of the Springbok camp and they negotiated a traditionally tricky hurdle in the form of the men from the Northern Cape, who have long been a thorn in their side.
Led by new captain Phepsi Buthelezi at No.8, who scored one of his team’s four tries, the Durbanites were made to work hard for their win, but ultimately came away from Kimberley with maximum points.
The hosts, who also had a new captain in former Bulls back-row Ruan Steenkamp who, like Buthelezi, is a former Junior Springbok skipper, were gutsy as ever. They tried hard but conceded two tries in a 12-minute period after the break and just couldn’t recover.
Griquas got on the board as early as the second minute via a long-range penalty by veteran flyhalf George Whitehead after tighthead Andries Schutte had gotten the better of Khwezi Mona in the first scrum. The two titans would go tit-for-tat throughout.
The Sharks looked to hit right back with good phase play but the home team held their line. Flyhalf Boata Chamberlain ultimately tried a crosskick but overcooked it and Griquas were able to clear from the lineout. They weren’t out of danger, though, as the visitors surged up-field from the ensuing lineout and Chamberlain slotted a drop-goal to get his side on the board in the seventh minute.
Opposite number Whitehead put the Peacock Blues back in front after Mona conceded another penalty at scrum time in the 12th minute. The Sharks loosehead, however, got one back with a massive shove that allowed the visitors to get out of their half moments later.
The Sharks unlocked the defence on the 20-minute mark when midfielder Marius Louw put Thembelani Bholi into space with an inside pass. The flank fed Jaden Hendrikse with a good offload with the scrumhalf quickly shipping the ball to his captain whose barnstorming run gave him the momentum to stretch over despite a desperate tackle from Griquas fullback Masixole Banda. Chamberlain added the conversion to make it 10-6.
Everitt’s charges were on a roll and centre Jeremy Ward looked to have scored a cracking try as he athletically collected a Chamberlain chip and dotted down only to be called back for offside. Still on the prowl, electrifying runs by Hendrikse and Louw got the Sharks back into the red zone where Gideon van der Merwe, who was excellent, won a vital penalty on the deck in the 32nd minute.
Breakdown pressure on the other side of the field earned Griquas a kickable penalty but they opted for the lineout instead and the decision seemingly paid off as hooker Janco Uys went over from a driving maul. The try was disallowed, though, because of obstruction and the Sharks headed into half-time with their seven-point lead intact.
The men in black and white came out strong in the second half and after a penalty by Chamberlain, Ward got his try as he beat Eduan Keyter to a chip from winger Werner Kok. Excellent skill by flyer Anthony Volmink and Hendrikse, who was superb in the No.9 jersey, then saw lock Hyron Andrews gallop in and suddenly the score had ballooned to 25-6 after 52 minutes, with Chamberlain having converted both tries.
In danger of being blown out of the water, Griquas replied with a good try of their own, centre Andre Swart’s grubber finding Keyter, who brilliantly beat Manie Libbok and touched down in the corner to make it 25-11.
Chamberlain missed a relatively straightforward penalty after yet another dangerous dart by half-back partner Hendrikse had forced the hosts to infringe at the ruck and the flyhalf then kicked the ball out on the full. Looking to capitalise, Griquas threw everything at the Sharks near their line but they escaped for the time being.
When replacement Sharks forward Mpilo Gumede was yellow-carded for playing lock Cameron Lindsay in the air at a lineout, Griquas had a couple of golden opportunities to cash in but were unable to do so. Soon, they were down to 14 men as well as replacement forward Hanru Sirgel received his marching orders for sacking a driving maul.
The Sharks almost scored from another driving maul, but replacement hooker Kerron van Vuuren was unable to ground the ball. With seven minutes remaining, the never-say-die Griquas scored a terrific coast-to-coast try. A cut out pass by Banda gave winger Keyter acres of space and he burned a sweeping Louw before being grounded just outside the Sharks’ 22. From there, brilliant hands freed up Daniel Kasende to walk over on the other wing.
At 25-16, a successful conversion would’ve brought them within seven, but replacement flyhalf Theo Boshoff’s kick went wide. It mattered little in the end, though, as the Sharks scored a final try through Van Vuuren to secure the full five points.
Tries: Keyter, Kasende.
Pens: George Whitehead 2
Tries: Buthelezi, Ward, Andrews, Van Vuuren.
Cons: Chamberlain 2
Drop goal: Chamberlain
Griquas: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Ederies Arendse, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruan Steenkamp (captain), 7 Sibabalo Qoma, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Andries Schutte, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Replacements – from: Tiaan van der Merwe, Andrew Kuhn, Ewald van der Westhuizen, Jeandré Leonard, Hanru Sirgel, Raegan Oranje, Theo Boshoff, Christopher Hollis, Tijde Visser, Enver Brandt, Ashlon Davids.
Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Reniel Hugo, 21 Mpilo Gumede, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Marnus Potgieter.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Referees: Mpho Matsaung, Franco de Bruin
TMO: AJ Jacobs