The Sharks recorded four tries in the second half to claim a 35-10 win over Griquas in their preparation series opener at King Park on Sunday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
The last time the Sharks were in action they very nearly pulled off a massive upset against the Vodacom Bulls in the Currie Cup final, but this was a very different looking team.
With the Sharks resting a number of first-choice players (as most franchises are), while providing game time to their greater squad, this result is ultimately a pleasing one – particularly after weathering an early storm from a gallant Griquas side.
It must be said that the first half largely belonged to Griquas, who produced a gutsy and physical display, again proving they are a team making good progress under coach Scott Mathie.
Yet Griquas’ inability to maintain such intensity over 80 minutes again came back to haunt them, as it did so often in the Currie Cup.
They were fully deserving of a 10-0 lead at one point, but the Sharks would importantly strike back just before the break when Anthony Volmink went over to score.
However, after all that good work from Griquas in the first half, a decisive moment in the match then came in the form of a yellow card to scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer, who also conceded a penalty try for a cynical knock down.
Not long after, on the hour mark, the Sharks took control of proceedings when some lovely handling allowed Aphelele Fassi to go over unopposed and help establish an 11-point buffer.
Before full-time, Thaakir Abrahams and Jordan Chait also dotted down, with the latter try created after a beautiful break by Fassi, who got better and better as the game went on.
Sharks – Tries: Anthony Volmink, penalty try, Aphelele Fassi, Thaakir Abrahams, Jordan Chait. Conversions: Manie Libbok (2), Jordan Chait (2).
Griquas – Tries: Gideon van der Merwe. Conversion: George Whitehead. Penalty: Whitehead.
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Jeremy Ward (captain), 12 Murray Koster, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Subs: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Ntuthuka Mchunu, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Mpilo Gumede, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Jordan Chait, 23 Thaakir Abrahams.
Griquas: 15 James Verity-Amm, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Siba Qoma, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Nqobisizwe Mxoli.
Subs: 16 Hendrick Luus, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Tijde Visser, 19 Ewan Coetzee, 20 Jo-Hanko de Villiers, 21 Ashlon Davids, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Ederies Arendse, 24 Bandisa Ndlovu, 25 Carl Els, 26 Berton Klaasen.