Tries flow for su­per Sharks

The Sunday Independent - - SPORT - MIKE GREENAWAY Tries: Con­ver­sions: Bosch (3) Try: Steyn Penal­ties: White­head (2)

SHARKS (24) 41

Ward, Mvovo (2), Van der Merwe, Zas (2)

(6) 11

AS FAR as dress re­hearsals for the Cur­rie Cup semi-fi­nals go, the Sharks mostly got their lines right in Kim­ber­ley yes­ter­day when they com­fort­ably dis­posed of a com­bat­ive Gri­quas team.

Coach Robert du Preez had made a host of ex­per­i­men­tal changes to his side in or­der to have his match 23 in the best pos­si­ble shape for Satur­day’s semi-fi­nal at Kings Park, and to that end it was pleas­ing to see a hand­ful of Spring­boks en­joy their first mean­ing­ful game time since re­turn­ing from in­jury.

Beefy Coe­nie Oosthuizen started his first game since his calami­tous in­jury against Ire­land last Novem­ber and will be much the bet­ter for play­ing the full 80.

Of course, the Sharks have an­other Bok tight­head wait­ing in the wings in Thomas du Toit.

Sbu Nkosi, who had made such an im­pact on the right wing for the Boks in the June se­ries against Eng­land, was back in ac­tion af­ter his foot frac­ture and looked sharp as ever, and cel­e­brated his come­back with a good try.

An­other Shark who starred for the Boks against Eng­land, Jean-Luc du Preez, was back af­ter two months of re­cov­ery from groin surgery and he made his mus­cu­lar pres­ence felt when he came on in the sec­ond half.

The sig­nif­i­cant po­si­tional change was at fly­half, where Cur­win Bosch had a rare out­ing in the po­si­tion and af­ter a rusty start he showed some deft touches.

The man he dis­placed, Robert du Preez, was solid at in­side cen­tre, but it is cer­tain that nor­mal ser­vice will be re­sumed for the semi-fi­nal, with Du Preez back at 10 and Bosch once more at full­back.

On the sub­ject of come­backs from in­jury, the player that stole the show was for­got­ten Sharks re­cruit Le­olin Zas, the for­mer Western Prov­ince and Storm­ers wing that joined the Sharks two years ago only to be in­jured for most of that time.

He only made it onto the bench for this match be­cause Kobus van Wyk pulled out with a ham­string in­jury, and Zas cer­tainly made the most of his op­por­tu­nity, scor­ing two sparkling tries.

There was also a brace of tries for vet­eran Lwazi Mvovo, who showed no sign of de­clin­ing pace at age 32.

Akker van der Merwe started his first match of the Cur­rie Cup af­ter CROA­TIA’s Borna Coric, left, pro­duced a fine dis­play of power-hit­ting to stun holder Roger Fed­erer 6-4, 6-4 in the Shang­hai Masters yes­ter­day and will face No­vak Djokovic in the fi­nal. Djokovic beat Ger­man Alexan­der Zverev 6-2, 6-1 to claim the world No2 rank­ing from Fed­erer. ❘ Reuters hav­ing had to set­tle for a place on the bench be­hind reg­u­lar cap­tain Chili­boy Rale­pelle, and he had a typ­i­cally storm­ing game.

The Sharks’depth cer­tainly seems to be com­ing to­gether nicely for the knock-out stages of the com­pe­ti­tion, with Du Preez suc­cess­fully blood­ing new­com­ers in livewire scrumhalf Grant Wil­liams and man moun­tain lock JJ van der Mescht, the 19-year-old who was at Glen­wood High last year.

The Sharks started off the match in char­i­ta­ble mood, butcher­ing three clear cut try-scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, but once they showed pa­tience with ball in hand, and with the for­wards get­ting on top, the tries be­gan to flow.

The plucky home side were say­ing farewell to their pop­u­lar coach Peter En­gel­dow and were prob­a­bly bet­ter than the score sug­gests, hav­ing had three tries dis­al­lowed.

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