The Sharks beat the Jaguares 33-19 in Durban on Saturday to move to the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby log. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Sharks continue to play a pragmatic yet effervescent brand of rugby. Following a taxing four-game tour to Australasia – which saw Sean Everitt’s charges bank three wins – they produced their most complete performance of the season to down the Jaguares and to move to the top of the overall standings.
The Jaguares came into the 2020 tournament as favourites to win the South African conference title. They were competitive in the recent outing against the Stormers at Newlands and absolutely dominant against the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last week.
On Saturday, however, the Argentinians were outclassed by a more physical and accurate Sharks outfit. At no point did they threaten to take control of this crucial contest.
The Sharks made an early statement when they put the ball in the air and deployed their wings to chase. S’bu Nkosi soared to win the ball back, and from there the hosts continued to apply the pressure against a fractured Jaguares defence.
The Sharks completed 21 kicks from hand in the first half alone. They kicked with the intent to create a contest or to find space. The execution of their game plan yielded significant dividends.
Backs and forwards combined to sublime effect in the first half. Hyron Andrews showed good awareness to finish the first try, while Sikhumbuzo Notshe was awake to a subsequent opportunity after a quick-tap penalty was taken.
Aphelele Fassi was not to be outdone, though. South Africa’s form fullback showed the full range of his abilities when he stepped past a defender, surged down field, and then kicked and regathered to earn more territory.
From a subsequent phase, loosehead prop Ox Nche found himself in the backs, and threw a terrific long pass to set up André Esterhuizen for a score.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) March 7, 2020
The Sharks lapsed to allow the Jaguares across the line before halftime. Accurate goal-kicking by Bosch, however, ensured that the hosts went to the break with a commanding 22-12 lead.
There was no sign of complacency in the early stages of the second stanza. The Sharks continued to apply the pressure and continued to garner rewards. Bosch nailed two penalties to stretch the lead to 16 points.
The Jaguares struggled to maintain their discipline and scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou was shown a yellow card for a cynical infringement in the 61st minute. Fassi was also directed to the sin bin for a no-arms tackle attempt in the latter stages.
The hosts went hunting for a try-scoring bonus point thereafter. The Jaguares managed to score another try, though, and thwart the Sharks’ ambitions.
The Sharks will host the Stormers – who led the South African conference until recently – next Saturday.
Sharks – Tries: Hyron Andrews, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, André Esterhuizen, Kerron van Vuuren. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (3).
Jaguares – Tries: Santiago Carreras, Sebastian Cancelliere, Joaquin Tuculet. Conversions: Joaquin Diaz Bonilla (2).
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Madosh Tambwe.
Jaguares –15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Carreras, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente (c), 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Tomas Lezana, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Joel Sclavi, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Mayco Viyas.
Subs: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Santiago Grondona, 21 Sebastian Cancelliere, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Santiago Chocobares.
Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets