The Sharks moved closer to securing their play-off spot with an entertaining 53-24 victory over the EP Kings in Durban on Saturday. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
Heading into this one, the Sharks supporters would've expected nothing less than a full haul of five log points and they duly delivered, running in seven tries to blow the Kings away.
It wasn't as polished a performance as the scoreline suggests, with defensive lapses and scrum struggles taking some gloss off the victory. In the end, though, they had the firepower to get the job done.
The Sharks made their intentions clear early on, as they kicked for the corner from an early penalty. The Kings managed to sack the initial maul, but the Sharks worked the ball through the forwards, before Lourens Adriaanse crashed over for the opener.
Flyhalves Lionel Cronjé and Gary van Aswegen then traded penalties as referee Ben Crouse looked to stamp his authority on the match. Kings hooker Martin Ferreira was rather harshly awarded a yellow card and the Sharks capitalised on their numerical advantage, as Lwazi Mvovo cantered over for an easy try.
Mvovo was also involved in the Sharks' third, a flowing counter-attacking move that was rounded off by André Esterhuizen. Cronjé added the extras in blustery conditions as the Sharks moved into a commanding 24-3 lead after just 25 minutes.
It was Cronjé who wrapped up the bonus point after just 30 minutes, with a fortuitous effort after intercepting a speculative Gary van Aswegen pass.
To their credit, the Kings didn't lie down and were rewarded with a Paul Schoeman try just before half-time. The try seemed to lift the visitors and they brought themselves back into the match early in the second stanza as centres Shane Gates and Tim Whitehead capitalised on some slack Sharks defending.
Their challenge faded badly, though, as Stephan Lewies and a brace from Paul Jordaan sealed a comprehensive victory for the Sharks.
Sharks – Tries: Lourens Adriaanse, Lwazi Mvovo, André Esterhuizen, Lionel Cronjé, Paul Jordaan (2), Stephan Lewies. Conversions: Lionel Cronjé (6). Penalties: Cronjé (2)
EP Kings – Tries: Paul Schoeman, Shane Gates, Tim Whitehead. Conversions: Gary van Aswegen (3). Penalty: Van Aswegen.
Sharks – 15 SP Marais, 14 S’bura Sithole, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Conrad Hoffmann, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 JC Astle, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Subs: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Stephan Lewies, 19 Johan Meyer, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Tim Swiel, 22 Tonderai Chavhanga.
EP Kings – 15 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Tobie Botes, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Devin Oosthuizen, 6 Stefan Willemse, 5 Darron Nell (c), 4 Steven Cummins, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Albe de Swardt, 17 Charl du Plessis, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Tim Agaba, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Scott van Breda.
Photo: Anesh Deblky/Gallo Images