Gary Gold hailed the character displayed by the Sharks in overcoming a half-time deficit to clinch a thrilling 18-13 win over the Stormers, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The Sharks trailed 10-3 at the break, having had to absorb plenty of pressure in the opening stanza, but the visitors managed to outscore the Stormers 15-3 in the second half.
Although the game looked headed for a draw when Stormers flyhalf Kurt Coleman kicked a penalty to even the scores heading into the final few minutes, Sharks winger JP Pietersen created a try for flyhalf Joe Pietersen in a moment of magic that proved to be the match-clincher.
There was enough time for the Stormers to launch one final attack, but the Sharks managed to hold them out and force the error, having done particularly well to thwart an attempted driving maul within their 22.
‘Everybody played their part,' said Gold. 'Coming up against such a good Stormers team, we had to work really hard at the set piece to get parity, and I’m proud of the way they stepped up.
‘We knew what was coming, but we really had to absorb wave after wave of attack. We have worked really hard defensively, and I’m just so proud of the character we showed, especially in the way we dealt with that drive at the end.’
A controversial moment in the match came early in the second half when TMO Marius Jonker awarded the Sharks a penalty try that allowed them to draw the scores level at 10-10. Jonker ruled that Stormers flanker Siya Kolisi had kicked the ball out of Cobus Reinach’s hands in the act of scoring.
The Sharks director of rugby said the decision would have been based on the way the incident was viewed.
‘If they deemed Siya kicked the ball out of Cobus’s hands intentionally, well then, you’re not allowed to that. Then you have to ask, would he have scored or not? My understanding is they came to the conclusion that he would have. Was it on purpose or was it an accident? At the end of the day you can’t intentionally kick the ball out of someone’s hands. That’s the law.’
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck refused to be drawn on passing judgement on the decision.
‘The call was made, and the decision was just whether he intentionally tried to kick it or not. If it was deemed to be an unintentional act as part of the tackle, then it’s not a penalty try. Siya was very upset afterwards, and felt he didn’t do it intentionally.’
Fleck said they had gone into the second half feeling confident they could push on to secure a winning result.
‘We played well in the first half, and felt comfortable and confident at the break, but we allowed them in the game. Credit to the Sharks, though, their defence and tactical kicking was very good. They won a number of balls in the air against us.’
Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images