The Sharks kept their play-off hopes alive with a 27-20 win over the Free State Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday.
Following last week’s defeat to the Pumas, the Sharks bounced back with a vital victory over the Cheetahs.
The match was evenly poised as both teams scored three tries a-piece, however, it was Curwin Bosch’s boot which kept his team in the match. The flyhalf added 10 points, two conversions, penalty and a drop goal, to his team’s tally.
The Sharks were the first side on the board, following courtesy of a penalty by Bosch. The host then extended their lead with a five-pointer as they stretched the Cheetahs defence and after a few passes wing, Lwazi Mvovo went over the line for the first ist try of the match. Bosch added the extras for the 10-0 lead.
Minutes later Cheaaths pulled one back, they moved the ball around until Joseph Dweba bulldozed his way through the bodies to score the Cheetahs’ first try.
The Cheetahs continued to attack and were again rewarded for their efforts. They build pressure inside the Sharks 5 before former Sharks player Ben Janse van Rensburg found a gap and dived over the line. This time Fouche made sure to add the extras for the 12-10 lead.
Just before the Sharks, the lead switched hands as a fumbled ball by the Cheetahs hot snatched up by Aphelele Fassi. The fullback ran from his own 22 to hand the Sharks the 17-12 lead at the break.
In the second half, the Sharks looked to extend their lead however the try was cancelled thanks to shoulder charge by Craig Burden in the build-up. The hooker was handed yellow card. During his absence, Cheetahs flyhalf Louis Fouche narrowed the deficit to just 2 points with a penalty kick.
Bosch had an opportunity to extend the lead, however, the long-range kick form the 50-metre line failed to hit the mark and the score remained 17-15.
In a numeral disadvantage, the Sharks struggled to break through the Cheetahs defence nonetheless Bosch opted for drop goal and it proved to be successful, 20-15.
In the last quarter, the Cheetahs camped inside the Sharks half. They had a five-metre and took it outwide however an obstruction nullified all the efforts.
They had line-out on the SHakrs’ five-metre line which certainly was not well executed however they managed to retain the ball and shifted it wide to Jan Coetzee who went over the line for the try. Fouche failed to add the extras and the score remained 20-all.
In the final minutes, the Cheetash were caught off guard as great interplay by Mvovo and Fassi made sure the team work their way to up the field until a long pass found Kobus van Wyk alone out wide making it easy for the wing to stroll over the line untouched. Rhyno Smith added the conversion for the 27-20 win.
The win sees Sharks jumped to fifth place with 10 points, just two points behind the Western Province in fourth.
Man of the match: For the Cheetahs Joseph Dweba produced an impressive display, his solid carries help his side. While Curwin Bosch was also very good with the boot. However, our nod goes to Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi.
Tries: Mvovo, Fassi, Van Wyk
Cons: Bosch 2, Smith
Tries: Dweba, Janse van Rensburg, Coetzee
Yellow card: Craig Burden (Sharks, 48 – dangerous play)
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Mzamo Majola.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Evan Roos, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Rhyno Smith.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Sitno Manjesi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 Walt Steenkamp, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Dian Badenhorst / Tapiwa Mafura, 22 Ruan Pienaar
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Referees: Archie Sehlako, Blake Beattie
TMO: Christie du Preez