The Sharks claimed a comfortable 20-10 win over the Jaguares in Durban to claim the final wildcard playoff place on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
By no means was this a pretty win for the Sharks, but they could care less. One way or another, they have snuck their way into the knockout stage, although what now awaits is an away clash against the imperious reigning champions, the Crusaders next weekend.
The Sharks came into Saturday’s clash with every chance of qualifying for the playoffs after the Highlanders had overcome the Rebels earlier in the day, and yet only a small, subdued crowd pitched up at a rain-drenched Kings Park.
The Jaguares’ fate – a quarter-final date against the Lions – had already been sealed before play got underway, which vindicated their decision to rest a number of first-choice players for this encounter, but it all made for a rather underwhelming affair.
Although the Sharks enjoyed just 23 and 22% of possession and territory respectively in the first half, which also saw Dan du Preez sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle, they took a handy 13-3 lead into the break.
It was typical of a Sharks side that has been quite happy to play without the ball this season, while pouncing on opportunities when they arose, which was exactly the case when Akker van der Merwe broke away to score the solitary try of the opening stanza just after the quarter-hour mark.
That try also opened up a handy 10-point advantage, which was extended further when Kobus van Wyk showed great strength to finish off a crucial try in the context of the clash in the 53rd minute.
The Jaguares briefly threatened to mount a comeback when Sebastian Cancelliere dotted down for the visitors, but the Sharks had clearly been the better team in the second half, and comfortably closed out a victory that ensured they would finish eighth on the overall standings.
Sharks – Tries: Akker van der Merwe, Kobus van Wyk. Conversions: Rob du Preez (2). Penalty: Du Preez (2).
Jaguares – Try: Sebastian Cancelliere. Conversion: Joaquín Díaz Bonilla. Penalty: Bonilla.
Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (c), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Makazole Mapimpi.
Jaguares – 15 Ramiro Moyano, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Sebastian Cancelliere, 10 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Javier Diaz.
Subs: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Emiliano Boffelli.
Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix