Resolute Sharks crush Cheetahs comeback

An outstanding defensive display from the Sharks snuffed out a spirited Cheetahs fightback to secure a hard-fought Currie Cup victory in Bloemfontein on Friday.

The Sharks streaked to a 17-0 half-time lead but required a late strike from replacement lock Marco de Witt to hold on for a 24-17 win in the face of a second-half surge by the home team.

Defensively solid and powerful on attack, the Sharks left the Cheetahs in their wake in the first half as tries from flanker Tinotenda Mavesere and hooker Fez Mbatha were complemented by the boot of flyhalf Lionel Cronje.

The tables turned after the restart as quick-fire tries from flankers Sibabalo Qoma and Gideon van der Merwe brought the Cheetahs within five points. And when the Sharks lost loosehead prop Khwezi Mona to a yellow card at the end of the third quarter, it looked like the Cheetahs were going to overhaul their coastal rivals.

But the visitors rallied and De Witt dotted down with Cronje adding the extras to put the Sharks in the clear, despite a late score from Cheetahs hooker Louis van der Westhuizen.

The Sharks return to Durban next week to host Griquas while the Cheetahs welcome Griffons to Bloemfontein for a Free State derby.

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