Curwin Bosch kicked 14 points as the Sharks claimed a 19-13 victory over the previously unbeaten Cheetahs at Kings Park on Friday.
The result sees the Sharks leapfrog he Cheetahs in second position on the Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked standings, with the Vodacom Bulls still topping the table.
This was in all probability the worst game in the domestic competition so far; akin to one of those drab Australian derbies. Both sides contributed it being a comedy of errors, but it was the sheer volume of mistakes that made this encounter difficult to watch.
In a manic start, both teams made it clear that they intended to play expansively. Only intent and execution were not on the same wavelength. The Sharks in particular had created several scoring opportunities, but those chances were either spurned by terrible handling or aggressive Cheetahs defence. Additionally, the Sharks also turned down four potential kicks at goal, which could’ve given them a handy double-digit lead.
Instead, one of those calls to go to the line almost resulted in a try for the Cheetahs at the other end of the field. After pouncing on turnover possession, the visitors launched a scathing attack from right on their own tryline, but with an open tryline at his mercy wing Rosko Specman failed to hang onto the final pass; resulting in much frustration for the Cheetahs and a let-off for the Sharks.
Bosch did manage to slot two penalties late in the first half, including one in the stoppage time after the Cheetahs had lost lock Carl Wegner to a contentious yellow card.
The Sharks came out firing in the second half, but the Cheetahs remained disciplined on defence to deny them any sort of breakthrough. Instead, the Cheetahs would reduce the deficit with a second penalty despite being a man down.
It continued to be scrappy, until the Sharks finally unlocked the Cheetahs defence and Jeremy Ward ran over to score. But the centre’s effort was ruled out upon review as Mannie Libbok was judged to have interfered with a Cheetahs recipient after a hanging kick from Bosch in the lead-up.
Bosch and Schoeman then traded penalties to maintain the three-point gap, but the Cheetahs had every right to feel aggrieved after Sharks lock JJ van der Mescht escaped any further punished than the concession of the penalty after he put in a dangerous hit on Schoeman.
From that point, there was a subtle momentum shift in favour of the Cheetahs and with 10 minutes to go, they hit the front for the first time when William Smith scuttled away to score the first try of the match despite the final pass looking suspiciously forward.
But the Cheetahs’ fortunes’ turned quickly as Specman was shown a yellow card for deliberately slapping down the ball, an act that cost his team dearly.
In his absence, the Sharks accumulated 10 points in four minutes, via a converted try from Madosh Tambwe and Bosch to seal a hard-earned win.
Sharks – Try: Madosh Tambe. Conversion: Curwin Bosch. Penalties: Bosch (4).
Cheetahs – Try: William Small-Smith. Conversion: Tian Schoeman. Penalties: Schoeman (2).
Sharks – 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi, 7 Henco Venter (c), 6 Dylan Richardson 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 John Hubert-Meyer, 2 Dan Jooste, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Cameron Wright, 23 Werner Kok.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Malcolm Jaer, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Chris Smit, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Junior Pokomela (captain), 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Oupa Mchunu, 20 Jeandré Rudolph, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Reinhardt Fortuin, 23 Howard Mnisi.
Photo: Anesh Debiky/Getty Images