Bumbling Sharks return to winning ways in URC
URC REPORT: The Sharks have finally got back to winning ways with a scrappy 25-10 win over the Ospreys in Round Nine of the United Rugby Championship in Durban on Friday.
The match was Director of Rugby Neil Powell’s first game in charge of the team after Sean Everitt was given the boot after last weekend’s humiliating 0-35 defeat to Cardiff.
The home side outscored their opponents by three tries to two in a match where they again looked like they lacked any sort of game plan.
The Sharks only had a one-point lead heading into the final few minutes before converted tries from Curwin Bosch and James Venter pushed it out to a 15-point margin.
Ospreys head coach Toby Booth was also without his Wales players and was forced to make a pair of late changes to his matchday squad due to illness.
Although some of the errors of the Cardiff defeat were still in evidence, Bosch got the Sharks off the mark from the tee in the 12th minute and added a second penalty as the match entered the second quarter.
A loose inside pass from Makazole Mapimpi thwarted perhaps the clearest opportunity for a try in the first half, as the Sharks reached half-time 6-0 up.
That lead was reduced to a single point early in the second half when a patient Ospreys attack led to a cross-field kick from Jack Walsh that found its way into the arms of Luke Morgan to go over.
Walsh could not add the extras from out wide in the Durban wind and the Sharks hit back almost immediately, with Sikhumbuzo Notshe burrowing over from close range before Bosch dragged his conversion attempt wide.
Morris crashed over as the Ospreys closed the gap once more, but Walsh’s kick – from a similar position to his earlier miss – again veered wide.
The Sharks – perhaps bravely given how the wind had affected earlier efforts from the tee – opted to go for goal from inside their own half with a 73rd-minute penalty. Bosch’s effort fell well short as the chance went begging.
However, with the result still hanging in the balance, the Sharks wrapped up victory and gave the scoreline a convincing gloss in the closing stages as Bosch and Venter touched down in quick succession, with the flyhalf converting both.
Man of the Match
On a night when fine margins looked set to settle the encounter, Bosch’s contribution proved key.
His two penalties, two conversions and try added up to a total contribution of 15, which turned out to be the winning margin.
Play of the match
The pick of the tries was scored by the Ospreys early in the second half.
After winning their own line-out, the visitors embarked on some patient build-up play, with disciplined passing getting them within five metres.
Having struggled to force their way over, the ball was sent back to Walsh, who fired over a cross-field kick that Morgan gratefully collected and carried home.
Tries: Notshe, Bosch, Venter
Cons: Bosch 2
Pens: Bosch 2
Tries: Morgan, Morris
Sharks: 15 Henry Chamberlain, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi (captain), 7 Jeandre Labuschagne, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Vincent Tshituka, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 James Venter, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Nevaldo Fleurs, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.
Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Jack Walsh, 9 Matthew Aubrey, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Will Hickey, 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Huw Sutton, 4 Bradley Davies (captain), 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Rhys Henry.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Garyn Phillips, 18 Ben Warren, 19 Jack Regan, 20 Harri Deaves, 21 Luke Scully, 22 Cai Evans, 23 Tom Florence.
Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa), Griffin Colby (South Africa)
TMO: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Additional source: @URCOfficial