The Sharks beat the Cheetahs 19-8 in a disappointing Super Rugby match in Durban, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
This clash lacked the intensity that we've come to expect from South African derbies. Both sides struggled to build momentum with ball in hand, because of poor skills and high error rates, and showed no creativity until late in the game. With the Cheetahs adopting a more conservative approach, there was a lot of back-and-forth kicking that would have frustrated the Kings Park crowd.
Tim Swiel, starting his first Super Rugby match, made a shaky start when he missed a relatively simple penalty goal attempt. He then did well to scythe through the Cheetahs defence only to throw a poor pass in the tackle. That would be one of the few forays into the opposition 22 by either team in a forgettable first 40 minutes.
Elgar Watts' early penalty was cancelled out by Swiel's, which was a result of Tonderai Chavhanga being interfered with after kicking ahead (the winger tweaked a hamstring in that passage of play and left the field just before half-time).
Swiel then missed another simple shot at goal, which saw Frans Steyn assume the goal-kicking responsibilities, and his two penalties gave the Sharks a 9-3 lead early in the second half.
Heinrich Brüssow had done well at the breakdown on his return to Super Rugby, but was sent to the sin bin with 20 minutes to go for a cynical infringement in the red zone and Steyn kicked the penalty.
The Cheetahs, though, were able to score the game's first try with 14 men, when Hennie Daniller charged down Steyn's clearance kick and Ryno Benjamin picked up the ball to score. Watts narrowly missed the conversion.
The Sharks responded soon after when Swiel broke through the defence and Jean Deysel went over from a ruck for a converted try that made it 19-8.
Steyn missed a late long-range penalty, but by then the four log points were already secured by the Sharks, who are now six points clear of the Brumbies and Chiefs at the top of the combined log.
Sharks – Try: Jean Deysel. Conversion: Frans Steyn. Penalties: Tim Swiel, Steyn (3).
Cheetahs – Try: Ryno Benjamin. Penalty: Elgar Watts.
Sharks – 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Jaco van Tonder, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Ryan Kankowski, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 SP Marais.
Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Riaan Smit, 23 Raymond Rhule.
LEATHERMAN SA PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Jean Deysel played an important ball-carrying role for the Sharks, making 30m from his 13 runs. He also made eight tackles, without missing any, and scored his side's only try.
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