A strong first-half performance laid the platform for the Sharks to clinch a comfortable 46-24 bonus-point win over Griquas in Durban on Friday night. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
After an encouraging win over the Pumas in the opening round of the competition, the Sharks would have been pleased with another efficient performance against a Griquas side that can never be taken lightly.
The Sharks looked good with ball in hand, and ran in six tries to three, but it was really their dominance at the set pieces that provided the foundation for another bonus-point win. The Durban-based side led 31-10 after a dominant opening stanza, after being ahead as early as the second minute.
With ideal conditions for running rugby in Durban, the Sharks certainly displayed plenty of attacking intent in an opening half where they enjoyed the better of both territory and possession.
Within the opening 10 minutes, they opened up a 14-0 lead as Etienne Oosthuizen and S’bura Sithole went over for two clinically executed tries.
Although it set a decent early platform for the Sharks, Griquas did well to work their way back into the match, with Clinton Swart slotting a penalty before then creating the next try as he chipped, collected and completed a pass to Rudi van Rooyen, who went over unopposed.
However, the Sharks continued to dominate the set pieces, while Griquas' malfunctioning lineout proved to be a clear problem area for the Kimberley-based side (they lost four lineouts in the opening half).
It proved particularly costly when one of their lost lineout balls ultimately enabled André Esterhuizen to dart over for the Sharks’ third try, while Griquas’ discipline also continued to let them down.
The visitors conceded six penalties in the opening stanza, while AJ le Roux was shown a yellow card just before the break as the result of repeated infringements, and immediately after Stefan Ungerer twisted his way over the tryline to send the Sharks into a 21-point half-time lead.
Yet, it perhaps sent the hosts into a false sense of security as they certainly didn’t come out after the break with the same sort of intensity, with Griquas enjoying the better of the exchanges in the third quarter.
They received due reward when Alshaun Bock displayed great footwork to finish off a well-worked try in the 54th minute, although this was effectively cancelled out when Tera Mtembu dotted down for the Sharks’ fifth try on the hour mark.
Griquas briefly cut the deficit to 12 points when JW Jonker scored an opportunistic try soon after, but the Sharks put the result to bed when Bosch slotted a second penalty with just over 10 minutes to play.
The nature of the Sharks' set-piece domination was then aptly summed up when Jean Deysel scored his team's sixth and final try after an utterly dominant scrum in the red zone.
Sharks – Tries: Etienne Oosthuizen, S’bura Sithole, André Esterhuizen, Stefan Ungerer, Tera Mtembu, Jean Deysel. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (5). Penalties: Bosch (2).
Griquas – Tries: Rudi van Rooyen, Alshaun Bock, JW Jonker. Conversions: Clinton Swart (3). Penalty: Swart.
Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Neil Maritz, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 S'bura Sithole, 10 Inny Radebe, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Keegan Daniel (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 Ruan Botha, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Heimar Williams/Odwa Ndungane, 22 Rhyno Smith.
Griquas – 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Clinton Swart, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 RJ Liebenberg (c), 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Jono Janse van Rensburg, 4 Mzanele Zito, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 Marius Fourie, 1 Steph Roberts.
Subs: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Liam Hendricks, 19 Sias Koen, 20 Steph Vermeulen, 21 Renier Botha, 22 Elgar Watts.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images