The Sharks secured the bonus point with a hard-fought 34-17 victory over the Pumas at Kings Park on Friday, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
It was another disjointed showing from the defending champions, with their highly touted backline failing to fire once again. Luckily for them, their forwards were able to bail them out, as they scored four second-half tries, three from rolling mauls, to claim a much-needed bonus point.
They dominated both territory and possession in the first half, but apart from a disallowed Odwa Ndungane try, they hardly troubled the Pumas' line. For all their endeavour, their forwards were unable to get across the gainline with any form of consistency, while their backs lacked direction.
The Pumas didn't even have to play that well to lead 7-6 at the break.
Brad Macleod-Henderson must've had strong words for his charges at half-time as they upped the intensity in the second staza. Their response was swift, and it took just 40 seconds for SP Marais to put them back in the lead.
The Pumas wouldn't lie down though, and after Marco Wentzel was sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements, they reclaimed the lead as Renaldo Bothma surged up the right touchline to score.
The Sharks forwards were turning up the heat, and after being restored to a full compliment, Jacques Botes went over from a rolling maul. Their third try was a soft effort, with captain Tera Mtembu diving over unchallenged as the Pumas rather unsportingly tried to negate the Sharks' maul.
The Sharks pressed hard for the bonus point late on, and were rewarded when replacement hooker Monde Hadebe went over for their fourth in the 76th minute.
While they are likely to be relieved to have come away with five log points against this gutsy Pumas outfit, the Sharks will have plenty to work on ahead of their match against the Free State Cheetahs in Durban next week.
Sharks – Tries: SP Marais, Jacques Botes, Tera Mtembu, Monde Hadebe. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga, Patrick Lambie (3). Penalties: Zeilinga (2)
Pumas – Tries: Frikkie Spies, Renaldo Bothma. Conversions: Justin van Staden, JC Roos. Penalty: Roos.
Sharks – 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Ettienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 JC Astle, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Johan Meyer, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Hanco Venter, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Lionel Cronjé.
Pumas – 15 JW Bell, 14 Ruwellyn Isbell, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosco Speckman, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corné Steenkamp (c), 5 Giant Mtyanda, 4 Frikkie Spies, 3 DeJay Terblanche, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Vincent Koch.
Subs: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Uzair Cassiem, 20 Snake Nyoka, 21 JC Roos, 22 Jerome Pretorius.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images