Curwin Bosch scored 20 points as the Sharks secured a 37-12 win over the Force in Durban on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
The last time out in Durban, the Sharks played to a dour 9-9 draw against the Rebels, which left their playoffs ambitions hanging in the balance.
However, the Sharks have responded impressively since then as they secured a crucial win over the Jaguares in Argentina last weekend, while the Durbanites produced a superior all-round performance to punish the faltering Force.
Along with Bosch, the likes of Sbu Nkosi, Jeremy Ward, Lukhanyo Am and Rhyno Smith all impressed among the backs, while the Sharks’ forwards delivered a clinical and physical effort up front.
During a pedestrian opening half an hour of action, discipline was the only real difference between the two teams, with the Rebels conceding four penalties, two of which were successfully kicked to goal by Bosch.
A potentially decisive moment in the half then came when the Sharks finally strung a sequence of beautiful attacks together, with Nkosi finishing off what looked to be a stunning 90m try. However, an earlier knock-on from Bosch was correctly spotted, and which saw the try ruled out by the TMO.
Just a minute later, it turned out to be a 14-point swing as the Force executed a superb set move that ultimately saw South African-born James Verity-Amm dot down to help hand the visitors a one-point lead against the run of play.
With the Sharks failing to get their attacking game going, it was their forwards who once again stepped up to establish an effective foundation through a sequence of powerful mauls.
And as the pressure begun to build, so the discipline of the Force let them down as centre Curtis Rona was shown a yellow card, and in his absence, the Sharks scored two quick-fire tries through Ward and Jean-Luc du Preez.
That double strike just before the break suddenly sent the hosts into a handy 20-7 lead, and it only got better from there from the hosts as Bosch slotted a 48th-minute penalty before then finishing off an opportunistic try that effectively sealed the result soon after. Bosch’s touchline conversion would be his last act of the afternoon as Pat Lambie made his long-awaited return from injury when he came off the bench right before the hour mark.
At that stage, the Sharks looked well-placed to complete a bonus-point win, but fullback Marcel Brache would be next to score for the Force, and while Am did add a fourth try to the Sharks' tally not long after, the hosts failed to secure the one more needed for the full haul of log points.
Sharks – Tries: Jeremy Ward, Jean-Luc du Preez, Curwin Bosch, Lukhanyo Am. Conversions: Bosch (3), Pat Lambie. Penalties: Bosch (3).
Force – Tries: James Verity-Amm, Marcel Brache. Conversion: Ian Prior.
Sharks – 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt (c), 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coeni Oosthuizen, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Beast Mtawarira, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Johan Deysel.
Force – 15 Marcel Brache, 14 James Verity-Amm, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Isireli Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Tetara Faulkner, 2 Tatafu Polata-Nau, 1 Pek Cowan.
Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Francios van Wyk, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Mitchell Short, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Peter Grant.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images