Curwin Bosch kicked a last-gasp penalty in stoppage time as the Sharks snatched a thrilling 34-33 win over Griquas in Kimberley on Friday.
What a match, what a kick and what a result for the Sharks. Having erased a 13-point deficit in the final quarter, the Sharks would’ve thought it was a done deal.
But Griquas snatched that lead back in the last minute of the game when Tinus de Beer nailed a penalty. But their delight was short-lived as super-sub Sbu Nkosi secured possession for the Sharks from the kick off and after a few phases, the visitors won a penalty and Bosch stepped up and split the uprights to seal a dramatic win for his team.
The contest was tighter than expected and it was thoroughly entertaining. With the Sharks clearly on the hunt for a four-try bonus point win to stay in the fight for the title, Griquas successfully shut them down with resilient defence in the first half; but the visitors found a way to pierce that stingy defence multiple times in the second half.
What’s more, apart from the Sharks’ superior tactical kicking game – particularly the contestable kicks by Sanele Nohamba and Curwin Bosch – Griquas had the upper-hand in the scrums, at lineouts and on the ground. But Griquas’ downfall was their poor decision-making and high error-rate in the last quarter of the match.
One player who was a constant thorn in the Sharks’ flesh, was Gideon van der Merwe. The Griquas’ openside flank was a menace at the breakdown, excellent in defence and effective in equal measure on attack in open play as evidenced by his one try and try-assist.
The flawless goal-kicking display of De Beer was also crucial, especially when taking into consideration his 11th hour inclusion following the late withdrawal of captain George Whitehead.
The Sharks didn’t have it all their own way, but it is a testament to their quality that they were able to get the job done despite not firing on all cylinders.
After De Beer had put Griquas ahead with a penalty, the visitors would go on to score a try against the run of play when Thembelani Bholi broke out from deep to set-up Nohamba for the first try of the match on the other side of the field. But De Beer added to successive penalties to put his team 9-7 up at the break.
The game opened up in the second half, as the sides combined to score six tries. It was all Griquas in the 20 minutes after the restart, though, as they outscored the Sharks three to one with wings Ederies Arendse and Eduan Keyter as well as Van der Merwe all scuttling over the try-line.
But the Sharks shifted a gear and turned the game on its head in the last 15 minutes. Trailing by 13, they wrestled back the ascendancy as captain Jeremy Ward and replacement flank Dylan Richardson breached the fractured Griquas defensive line, while Bosch succeeded with both conversion attempts to put the visitors in front by a point.
But that wasn’t the final twist. The rollercoaster continued when De Beer and Bosch traded those two late penalties to close out the game.
Griquas – Tries: Ederies Arendse, Eduan Keyter, Gideon van der Merwe. Conversions: Tinus de Beer (3). Penalties: De Beer (4).
Sharks – Tries: Sanele Nohamba, Manie Libbok, Jeremy Ward, Dylan Richardson. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (4). Penalty: Bosch (2).
Griquas – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (c), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Johan Momsen, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Mox Mxoli.
Subs: Monde Hadebe, Andrew Beerwinkel, Madot Mabokela, Carl Els, CJ Velleman, Theo Maree, Tinus de Beer, Daniel Kasende, Bandisa Ndlovu, Ewan Coetzee, Ashlon Davids.
Sharks – 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Jeremy Ward (c), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Khwezi Mona, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Dylan Richardson, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Sbu Nkosi.
Photo: Gallo Images