Sharks (15) 32
Western Province (10) 27
The Sharks and their arch-Currie Cup rivals from the Cape collaborated to deliver a highly entertaining spectacle that suggests the embattled domestic competition still has plenty of life left in it, and that the defending champions are not the dead-beats they resembled in the first round.
These two teams have been the finalists for the last three years in a row and on this evidence they will be right up there for honours this year, along with the Cheetahs who are at full strength in the Currie Cup for the first time since they joined the Pro 14.
The Sharks showed that their opening round 37-13 reverse at the hands of Griquas was an aberration, a perhaps understandable slump as the players underwent a transformation from the dictatorial Robert du Preez era to the democratic, free enterprise stewardship of Sean Everitt.
The latter was up against one of the best coaches in South Africa in John Dobson and the manner in which the Capetonians constantly fought back from deficits to threaten to take the game confirms they are a formidable contented side that can beat anyone anywhere.
For the Sharks to bounce back from their bewildering defeat to Griquas, their forwards needed to up their game and give flyhalf Curwin Bosch quality possession to bring out the best in his rich talents.
The forwards did their bit, and so did Bosch as he played an artful hand in his team’s four tries, which also meant they earned a bonus point.
The Sharks’ first try came indirectly from a long, sweeping pass from Bosch to Kobus van Wyk that eventually had fellow wing Lwazi Mvovo scoring down the blindside after a set scrum.
In that move, Province scrumhalf Justin Philip had been yellow carded for a professional foul but, with a man down, Province backed themselves to kick for the corner and were rewarded with a maul try to No 8 Jaco Coetzee, a former pupil at Durban’s Glenwood High.
Just before half time the Sharks scored a beauty when a lovely wide ball from Bosch found Jeremy Ward, who passes inside to Van Wyk for the try.
And a minute after the break there was telling intercept try for JP Pietersen for a 22-10 lead.
The visitors hit back through a try by centre Ruhan Nel before replacement Sharks hooker Craig Burden scored after taking an inside pass from Van Wyk.
Never-say-die Province pushed for the comeback victory and came close after rsubsistues flyhalf Johs Stan scored in the 77th minute.
Sharks – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, Kobus van Wyk, JP Pietersen, Craig Burden. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (3). Penalties: Bosch (2).
Western Province – Tries: Jaco Coetzee, Ruhan Nel, Josh Stander. Conversions: SP Marais (3). Penalties: Marais (2).