The Sharks staved off a fightback from the Pumas to claim a 42-19 bonus-point win in Nelspruit on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Although this was far from a perfect performance from the Sharks, the Durban-based side will happily welcome this result after an indifferent start to Super Rugby Unlocked.
After beginning the competition with a scrappy win over the Lions, the Sharks then had a bye before suffering a heavy defeat by the Vodacom Bulls last weekend.
In that context, the Sharks will have been satisfied with the manner in which they cruised to a 28-7 lead in an opening half where the foundation was laid for victory over a Pumas side that was extremely unfortunate to suffer a narrow defeat by the Stormers last weekend.
The capability and fighting spirit of the Pumas did come to fore at the start of the second half when Erich Cronje finished off a superb try, outmanoeuvring World Cup-winning opposite number Lukhanyo Am on the way to the tryline.
That try briefly cut the deficit to just 14 points, while the Pumas would have been given more confidence for mounting a fightback when Sanele Nohamba was sent to the sin bin after repeated infringements from the Sharks.
However, even in Nohamba’s absence, the Sharks effectively sealed the winning result when, from a powerful maul, Kerron van Vuuren burst over for a try with just over 10 minutes to play.
And although the Pumas did reply with a second try by Cronje, the Sharks bagged the bonus point when Van Vuuren wrapped up his brace from the back of another dominant lineout drive.
Pumas – Tries: Francois Kleinhans, Erich Cronje (2). Conversion: Fiela Boshoff (2).
Sharks – Tries: Manie Libbok, Madosh Tambwe, Dan Jooste, Sbu Nkosi, Kerron van Vuuren (2). Conversions: Curwin Bosch (5).
Pumas – 15 Devon Williams, 14 Neil Maritz, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Fiela Boshoff, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (c), 4 Darrien Landsburg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Liam Hendricks.
Subs (from): Marko Janse van Rensburg, Stepan de Jager, Brendon Valentyn, Phumzile Maqondwana, Chriswill Willemse, Neil Marais, Ali Mgijima, Dewald Maritz, Daniel Maartens, HP van Schoor, Kwanda Dimaza.
Sharks – 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 John Hubert-Meyer, 2 Dan Jooste, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Yaw Penxe.