The Sharks held off a late surge from the Jaguares to clinch a hard-fought 18-13 win in Durban on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Coming into this clash, both the Sharks and Jaguares were equal on 18 log points in the Africa 2 conference, and so there should be no underestimating the importance of this result for the Durbanites.
However, the home team certainly made life difficult for themselves, particularly during a 10-minute period when they had a one-man advantage and yet conceded seven points.
Despite that failure to make the most of a numbers advantage, the Sharks ultimately displayed good composure to bounce back from last weekend's disappointing loss to the Lions.
Having said that, this was a largely forgettable affair as both teams each committed as many as 16 handling errors in a scrappy clash played in humid conditions.
So far this season, the Sharks’ defence has been outstanding, and it was from a physical double tackle that Cobus Reinach managed to rip the ball away before displaying a great turn of speed to dash 60m and score in the corner early on.
However, the Jaguares quickly re-established the ascendancy as they built pressure with ball-in-hand, while the Sharks were guilty of conceding a string of penalties in the opening quarter.
Jaguares flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez duly slotted the first two shots at goal, but uncharacteristically sprayed two subsequent attempts wide of the posts.
Having been deprived of possession, while finding their scrum coming under plenty of pressure, the Sharks were fortunate to only find themselves only one point behind, while a penalty to Bosch enabled them to snatch a tenuous lead before the break.
It could have even been a more considerable advantage, but with the final play of the half, Bosch lost the ball forward with the tryline at his mercy, which rather aptly epitomised what had been an unattractive opening period of action.
The Sharks made up for that, though, as they made a good decision to kick a penalty to touch, and from the recycled possession, big André Esterhuizen barged over to score a crucial try that enabled his side to open up a nine-point buffer early in the second half.
Things then appeared to go from bad to worse for the visitors when Sánchez was shown a yellow card for a cynical early tackle with the Sharks on attack, but in his absence the Jaguares worked their way into the red zone, and captain Agustín Creevy completed an opportunistic try.
That suddenly made it a two-point ball game with less than 20 minutes to play, but Bosch slotted an important penalty in the 78th minute, and from there the Sharks held on for the win.
Sharks – Tries: Cobus Reinach, André Esterhuizen. Conversion: Curwin Bosch. Penalties: Bosch (2).
Jaguares – Try: Agustín Creevy. Conversion: Felipe Ezcurra. Penalties: Nicolás Sánchez (2).
Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Inny Radebe, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Tera Mtembu (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Rhyno Smith, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Bautista Ezcurra, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Marcos Kremer, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Lucas Noguera Paz.
Subs: 16 Roberto Tejerizo, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Felipe Arregui, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Rodrigo Baez, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Emiliano Boffelli.
Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix