Gods smile on Sharks

CUR­RIE CUP: Lions edged in ‘fran­tic’ clash full of er­rors

Weekend Witness - - Classifieds - JOHN BISHOP Sharks rugby

THE rugby gods — and tele­vi­sion match of­fi­cial (TMO) Deon van Blom­men­stein — smiled on the Sharks who edged the Golden Lions 3325 in a fran­tic, er­ror-rid­den Cur­rie Cup out­ing at King’s Park last night.

The Sharks shared the try count 3-3, but the Lions twice had tries awarded by ref­eree Ben Crouse in the sec­ond half only to have them over­turned by TMO Van Blom­men­stein.

The tight call for off­side on the sec­ond dis­al­lowed try — by re­place­ment Chrysander Botha — cost the Lions two bonus points, one for fin­ish­ing within seven points of the Sharks and the sec­ond for scor­ing four tries.

But the vic­tory was a cru­cial one for the Sharks who played well in patches and im­proved on last week’s dis­play against Gri­quas, par­tic­u­larly in the set pieces. Again, though, they failed to turn ter­ri­tory and pos­ses­sion into points and it fi­nally needed an in­ter­cept try by debu­tant wing SP Marais in the 73rd minute to carry them to an eight-point lead and safety.

The most wor­ry­ing as­pect of the Sharks’ per­for­mance on the night was their limp tack­ling. They missed nu­mer­ous one-on-one tack­les. Their poor de­fen­sive align­ment, par­tic­u­larly in the sec­ond half, also left yawn­ing gaps for Lions fly­half El­ton Jan­tjies. It was only des­per­ate scram­bling — and the avail­abil­ity of video re­plays — which saved the Sharks on the night.

They had the bet­ter of the first half, both in pos­ses­sion and field po­si­tion, but twice they were set on their heels as they con­ceded soft tries.

The first came af­ter 10 min­utes when Sharks fly­half Butch James kicked deep into the Lions’ cor­ner. The Sharks chase was poor and full­back Mar­nitz Boshoff, field­ing on his line, passed in­side to wing An­thony Volmink who ran 95 me­tres to score. The sec­ond also went to Volmink just eight min­utes later as he in­ter­cepted a skip pass by cen­tre Heimar Wil­liams on the halfway line.

The Sharks, who had played most of the rugby, were 17-6 be­hind af­ter the first quar­ter but, to their credit, they hit back al­most im­me­di­ately with tries by flank Bry­nard Stander — af­ter fel­low-flank Jean Dey­sel had driven strongly on three oc­ca­sions — and the promis­ing, com­mit­ted Wil­liams.

Full­back Odwa Ndun­gane was yel­low-carded late in the half af­ter a high tackle on Jan­tjies but, with James kick­ing both con­ver- sions and two penal­ties, the Sharks led 20-17 at the break.

The Lions im­proved markedly in the sec­ond half when their scrum was more solid and Jan­tjies kept run­ning at the hes­i­tant Sharks’ de­fence.

Flank Jaco Kriel scored an ex­cel­lent try af­ter a chipand-chase for the Lions to edge ahead 22-20 soon af- ter the break and the game then hung in the bal­ance as James and Jan­tjies traded penal­ties. Fi­nally, it was Sharks re­place­ment fly­half Fred Zeilinga who kicked a pres­sure penalty in the 71st minute (26-25) be­fore Marais’s late in­ter­cep­tion set­tled the con­test.

Sharks cap­tain Jac­ques Botes ad­mit­ted the game was in the bal­ance un­til the in­ter­cept try.

“It was a ner­vous game but ul­ti­mately we’re happy with the win.”

Lions cap­tain Der­ick Min­nie said his play­ers were dis­ap­pointed at “get­ting back into the game, and then los­ing it”.

“We had it and we let it go but the Sharks are a qual­ity side.”

Dey­sel was an ob­vi­ous man-of-the-match but Sharks lock Marco Wentzel was also piv­otal to the win.

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PHOTO: SA­BELO MN­GOMA

Golden Lions fly­half El­ton Jan­tjies bravely tack­les charg­ing Sharks flank and man-of-the-match Jean Dey­sel dur­ing last night’s Cur­rie Cup game at King’s Park. Lions scrumhalf Guy Cronje is in the back­ground. The Sharks won 33-25.

PHOTO: GALLO I MAGES

Gri­quas prop Lourens Adri­aanse is set to join the Sharks at the end of the year.

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