Griquas see red
Ref’s card shatters home side and gives Sharks a shock win
A red card shown by referee Craig Joubert to Griquas centre Jonathan Francke in the seventh minute distorted this game at the GWK Stadium in Kimberley and arguably cost the home side a shock victory over the defending champions.
Francke and fullback Nico Scheepers gang-tackled Sharks fullback SP Marais, but managed to tip him over the horizontal and send him crashing head-first to the ground.
Referee Joubert, who a week ago had been in Sydney directing the Super Rugby final, asked for the incident to be reviewed by the TMO. He decided that Francke was the guilty party, and that the incident was serious enough to warrant dismissal for the rest of the match – a straight red instead of a yellow.
Being trimmed to 14 men disrupted the Griquas and the Sharks were able to make the most of their numerical advantage by stacking up an 18-3 lead at the break.
Griquas scored first after the break to start the long haul back when Burger Schoeman fought hard to get the ball down on the line as he was sandwiched in a tackle.
However, the killer blow came just two minutes later via S’bura Sithole.
The centre, who has made such an impact this season, smashed strongly through the middle before setting off on a 50m dash to the line – ironically through a gap that might not have been there had Francke still been on the field.
Griquas however, refused to buckle and had the satisfaction of scoring the last two tries of the game – including a superb effort by Ederies Arendse, who did his surname proud by soaring high to outleap Marais and claim the ball in the air.
But in their eagerness to use what little time was left to push for victory, the Griquas erred and Fred Zeilinga scored the penalty to seal an important away win for the Sharks; the home side at least getting a bonus point for their efforts.
As was to be expected so early in the competition, both teams lacked accuracy, but the Sharks could feel satisfied that there was enough mettle in their reserves to be competitive.
The Griquas will take heart that they can take on the big teams – particularly on their home patch.
In Port Elizabeth on Friday night, a try by Cheslin Kolbe after full time gave Western Province a vital bonus point for scoring four tries as they beat the EP Kings 3516.
Round Two fixtures – Friday: 7.10pm – Sharks vs Pumas, King’s Park. Saturday: 2pm – WP vs Bulls, Newlands; 5.05pm – Lions vs EP Kings, Ellis Park; 7.10pm – Cheetahs vs Griquas.
TOUCHDOWN Edries Arendse of Griquas scores a try as SP Marais tries in vain to stop him