Cardiff edge Sharks at Arms Park
URC MATCH REPORT: Two late Rhys Priestland penalties sealed a hard-earned 23-17 win for Cardiff over the Sharks at Arms Park on Saturday.
The hosts raced into a 17-0 lead inside the first half-hour, but the Sharks worked their way back into the game and at 17-20 with less than 10 minutes to go looked like they could steal the win.
However, a Priestland penalty in the 76th minute put the seal on a win for the home team.
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Cardiff’s tries came from Matthew Morgan and Willis Halaholo, with Priestland kicking two conversions and three penalties.
Thomas Du Toit and Marnus Potgieter scored tries for the Sharks, while Curwin Bosch converted one and Boeta Chamberlain added a penalty and a conversion.
Cardiff began brightly to take a sixth-minute lead with a simple penalty from Priestland as the Sharks infringed four times in the opening eight minutes.
This ill-discipline proved costly as the hosts extended their advantage when Morgan danced past a couple of defenders for an excellent solo try which Priestland converted.
The Sharks should have then picked up their first points, but the normally reliable Ruan Pienaar was wide with a 30-metre angled kick.
The home side suffered an injury blow when Wales flank Ellis Jenkins walked off to be replaced by Shane Lewis-Hughes.
The Sharks were gradually increasing their influence on the game but an excellent up-and-under and a chase from Jason Harries won his side a platform in the opposition 22, from where Halaholo carved a hole in the visitors’ defence to race away and score.
At 17-0 down, the Sharks needed a quick response and got one when Du Toit forced his way over from close range. Bosch kicked the conversion but was off-target with a long-range penalty attempt.
Chamberlain became the Sharks’ third kicker of the match and succeeded with a 30-metre kick to leave his side seven points adrift at the interval.
The third quarter was totally one-sided as Cardiff never got out of their own half, but their opponents lacked the guile to break down a whole-hearted defence and the quarter went scoreless.
Bosch attempted another long-range penalty but it sailed wide, as did a much easier kick from Priestland, although the former Bath flyhalf made amends by knocking over his next attempt to give his side a 10-point advantage with 10 minutes remaining.
A converted try from Potgieter set up a tense finish, but a late penalty from Priestland sealed a morale-boosting victory.
Tries: Morgan, Halaholo
Cons: Priestland 2
Pens: Priestland 3
For the Sharks
Tries: Du Toit, Potgieter
Cons: Bosch, Chamberlain
Cardiff: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Owen Lane, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Will Boyde, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Carr.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Teddy Williams, 20 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Ben Thomas, 23 Hallam Amos.
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Murray Koster, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Gerbrandt Grobler, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Joaquin Bonilla, 23 Werner Kok.
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: TBC, Wayne Davies (Wales)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)