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Kok hat-trick saves Sharks blushes

MATCH REPORT: The Sharks hung on for a nervous 32-27 win over the Scarlets in their United Rugby Championship Round 15 encounter at Parc Y Scarlets, in Llanelli, on Friday.

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With both teams already out of the play-off race, after bitterly disappointing URC campaigns, the focus was on the Sharks ahead of their Challenge Cup semifinal against Clermont at Twickenham Stoop next week.

Fielding a near full-strength team – with only Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi missing – the visitors showed glimpses of their true potential.

However, they also showed the tardiness that bedevilled their URC season and will be of big concern for coach John Plumtree ahead of next week’s big European date.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

* (Continue below …)

A charged-down kick from the opening kick-off allowed the Scarlets an early attacking opportunity. That resulted in a penalty, which Sam Costelow kicked to open the scoring.

However, the Sharks responded immediately with a try by flying wing Werner Kok – a set line-out move and some swift hands creating the space out on the right. Siya Masuku added the conversion – 7-3.

An offside penalty allowed Costelow to narrow the gap to one point – 6-7.

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The Sharks replied through a Masuku penalty – 10-6, after 13 minutes.

Scarlets wasted no time in getting their first try – a combination of determined phase play and sublime handling allowing hooker Ryan Elias to charge over. Costelow slotted the conversion as the home team reclaimed the lead – 13-10.

The rest of the half was a scrappy mess, with neither team getting any real continuity.

That was until the stroke of half-time – a series of forward charges allowing prop Vincent Kock to charge over next to the uprights. Masuku added the conversion to make it 17-13 to the visitors at half-time.

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The Sharks started the second half like they did the first – very energetic. However, their execution was not up to the required standards.

A Masuku penalty stretched the lead to seven points – 20-13, after 45 minutes.

Again Scarlets hit back with a try of their own – prop Kemsley Mathias being driven over the line and Costelow adding the conversion to level it up at 20-all.

The Sharks kept battering away at the Scarlets line, but it was a crossfield kick by Masuku that found Kok on the right win, the flyer getting his second. Masuku made it a seven-point lead again – 27-20.

Kok got his hat-trick six minutes from full-time – another sublime Masuku crossfield kick. Masuku was wide of the mark with the conversion – 32-20.

The Scarlets stayed in the fight and an Ioan Nicholas try, converted by Costelow, made for a grand-stand finish – 27-32 with three minutes remaining.

However, the Sharks hung on for a nervous win.

The scorers

For Scarlets
Tries: Elias, Mathias, Nicholas
Cons: Costelow 3
Pens: Costelow 2

For the Sharks
Tries: Kok 3, Koch
Cons: Masuku 3
Pens: Masuku 2

Teams

Scarlets: 15 Ioan Nicholas, 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Johnny Williams, 12 Eddie James, 11 Tomi Lewis, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Vaea Fifita, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Taine Plumtree, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Morgan Jones, 3 Sam Wainwright, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Kemsley Mathias.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Evans, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Harri O’Connor, 19 Jac Price, 20 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Ryan Conbeer.

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Ethan Hooker, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Vincent Tshituka, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Corne Rahl, 20 Gerbrandt Grobler, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Francois Venter.

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Ben Breakspear (Wales) and Dewi Phillips (Wales)
TMO: David Sutherland (Scotland)

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