Flyhalf Joe Pietersen scored 14 points as the Sharks clinched a hard-fought 19-15 win over the Jaguares in Durban on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
This was an ugly win any way you look at it, but the Sharks will gladly bank the four log points and move on. The Jaguares were physical, committed and spoiled to good effect at the breakdown.
However, the Sharks clinically ground out the win as they kept the tiring Jaguares scoreless in the second half, with Pietersen slotting five goal kicks out of six.
The Sharks opened their Super Rugby campaign with a comfortable win over the Kings last weekend, while the Jaguares clinched an impressive comeback victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, and expectations were for a closely-fought battle at Kings Park.
Those pre-match predictions appeared well-founded after a tense opening quarter, which saw the Jaguares score the first try in the seventh minute through winger Emiliano Boffelli, only for the Sharks to hit back when Marcell Coetzee scored from the back of a lineout drive.
Both tries quite aptly illustrated the strengths of both sides, with the Jaguares scoring from a typical counter-attack, while the Sharks’ mauling proficiency was clearly in evidence as they executed a textbook drive.
Unfortunately the scrums proved to be a messy facet of the game during the opening half an hour, and it was eventually a penalty won at this set piece that enabled Pietersen to kick the Sharks into a 13-10 lead.
The Jaguares then suffered a double blow when both flankers, Rodrigo Báez and Pablo Matera, were sent to the sin bin within the space of a couple of minutes, first for a repeated maul infringements and then for a cynical tackle.
Yet against the run of play the Sharks conceded a turnover while on attack, and after a kick ahead, Jaguares fullback Santiago Cordero outstripped the defence to score and put the visitors into a surprise half-time lead despite being down to 13 men.
With the Sharks’ handling letting them down in typically humid Durban conditions, the home side desperately needed to hang onto the ball better and improve their execution while in opposition territory. Painfully for the Sharks, both Argentinian flankers returned from the sin bin early in the second half with the Jaguares having scored the only points during their absence.
Pietersen managed to edge his side into a one-point lead after slotting his third penalty in the 52nd minute, but the Jaguares' physical defence and breakdown enterprise continued to keep the Sharks’ attack at bay.
Nevertheless, the flyhalf added another three-pointer to keep the scoreboard ticking over heading into the latter stages of the game, and ultimately the Sharks were able to hang on for the win.
Sharks – Try: Marcell Coetzee. Conversion: Joe Pietersen. Penalties: Pietersen (4).
Jaguares – Tries: Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Cordero. Conversion: Nicolás Sánchez. Penalty: Sánchez.
Sharks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Beast Mtawarira (c).
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Garth April, 23 S’bura Sithole.
Jaguares – 15 Santiago Cordero, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Rodrigo Báez, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Santiago García Botta.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Javier Ortega Desio, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Joaquín Paz, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/Backpagepix