The Sharks beat the Stormers 24-14 on Saturday to maintain their position at the top of the overall standings. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Less than an hour before kick-off, Sanzaar confirmed the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament will be suspended at the conclusion of the round due to rising concerns around the coronavirus pandemic.
The Jaguares will host the Highlanders later this evening – behind closed doors – while the Brumbies will face the Waratahs on Sunday. Following that, the tournament will be put on hold for an indefinite period.
There was more drama immediately after kick-off when Johan du Toit flew under a leaping Louis Schreuder and caused the Sharks scrumhalf to land on his back and head. The Stormers flank was fortunate to receive a yellow card for his reckless tackle attempt, as the TMO suggested that offence warranted a red.
The Sharks did not punish the Stormers in Du Toit’s absence. There was a brutal contest at the collisions and breakdowns, and the kick-chase by the hosts was exceptional. The Sharks often let themselves down, though, with a knock-on at the crucial moment.
They continued to apply the pressure via the forwards and Andre Esterhuizen in midfield. Curwin Bosch found Aphelele Fassi with a well-timed short pass, and after 26 minutes the Sharks were finally on the board.
A poor kick by Bosch, however, gave the Stormers a chance to counter-attack almost immediately. Herschel Jantjies finished the move and Damian Willemse converted to level the scores.
Bosch missed his second penalty attempt of the match as half time approached. The Sharks flyhalf slotted a drop goal in injury time, though, to ensure his side went to the break with a 10-7 lead.
The Stormers continued to meet the Sharks’ challenge at the collisions and mauls in the second stanza. After a sustained period on attack, the Sharks won a penalty and Bosch stretched their lead to six points.
The Cape side’s defence kept them in the hunt. Juarno Augustus won an important turnover in his own half. Several minutes later, the powerful No 8 broke the line and set up Paul de Wet for a try. Willemse’s conversion gave the visitors a slender lead.
Bosch stepped up in the 69th minute, however, to slot a 58m goal. That appeared to lift the hosts.
The Sharks pack fired to win a scrum penalty in the dying stages, and Bosch bisected the uprights. The hosts delivered another telling blow before the final hooter. Makazole Mapimpi broke down the left-hand side to score and deny the Stormers a losing bonus point.
The result has the Sharks consolidating their position at the top of the overall standings.
Sharks – Tries: Aphelele Fassi, Makazole Mapimpi. Conversion: Curwin Bosch. Penalties: Bosch (3). Drop goal: Bosch.
Stormers – Tries: Herschel Jantjies, Paul de Wet. Conversions: Damian Willemse (2).
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Madosh Tambwe.
Stormers – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff (c).
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwezo Blose, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Rikus Pretorius, 23 Sergeal Petersen.
Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets