The Sharks began their Currie Cup title defence with a 31-24 win against Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
The result of this match looked to have been decided when Griquas centre Jonathan Francke was red-carded in the seventh minute for a spear tackle on SP Marais. Referee Craig Joubert first showed the card to a bemused Rocco Jansen before sending the correct player off the field.
Griquas, though, did not capitulate, and actually dominated the second half, scoring three good tries. Who knows what may have happened had they played with 15 men for 80 minutes.
The Sharks had to work hard for this win and the four log points.
Fred Zeilinga's first penalty attempt came off an upright, but he made no mistake with his next two to give the visitors a 6-3 lead.
Fourteen-man Griquas showed great heart on defence and it took the Sharks 31 minutes to cross the tryline. S'bura Sithole bounced off two defenders and threw a speculative pass that found Tonderai Chavhanga. The winger then offloaded in the tackle to Zeilinga, who scored in the left-hand corner. TV replays showed Sithole's pass had gone well forward but the TMO was not consulted.
The Sharks struck again after the half-time hooter when they pushed Griquas off their scrum ball and Paul Jordaan cantered over.
It was briefly 14 against 14 when Sharks prop Thomas du Toit was yellow-carded for not releasing a tackled player early in the second half. Zeilinga scored the only points in the next 10 minutes with his third penalty.
Griquas scored a try against 15 men when Marnus Schoeman grounded the ball on the line, before Sithole took a well-timed pass from Zeilinga and raced away to make it 28-10.
The hosts, though, would score another two tries through Carel Greeff and replacement Edries Arendse, who snatched a cross kick out of Marais' hands with a minute to go.
But the Sharks then won a penalty that Zeilinga sent through the posts and that was followed by the final whistle.
Griquas – Tries: Marnus Schoeman, Carel Greeff, Edries Arendse. Conversions: Nico Scheepers (3). Penalty: Scheepers.
Sharks – Tries: Fred Zeilinga, Paul Jordaan, S'bura Sithole. Conversions: Zeilinga (2). Penalties: Zeilinga (4).
Griquas – 15 Nico Scheepers, 14 Danie Dames, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Wayne Stevens (c), 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Hilton Lobberts, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Maks Van Dyk, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Steph Roberts.
Subs: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 RJ Liebenberg, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Marais Schmidt, 22 Edries Arendse.
Sharks – 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S’bura Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Marco Wentzel, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 JC Astle, 20 Francois Kleinhans, 21 Hanco Venter, 22 Lionel Cronjé.
Photo: Louis Botha/Gallo Images