Western Province scored three tries within the first 15 minutes of the second half as they secured a 37-27 bonus-point win over the Sharks. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
The Sharks’ defence once again let them down at crucial times, while their scrum disintegrated during the latter stages of the second half.
Playing in a commemorative jersey to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union, the Sharks produced a mostly impressive performance in the first half, with a host of former players in attendance at Kings Park.
However, a shocking second-half meltdown allowed Western Province to re-establish the ascendancy on their way to a fourth win of the season.
Although Province did open up a 10-6 lead in the opening quarter, with winger Seabelo Senatla scoring early on, the Sharks finished the first half strongly.
Powerful centre André Esterhuizen scored in the 35th minute, while Joe Pietersen – having shifted to flyhalf for this match – added his fourth penalty after the half-time hooter to hand the Sharks a 17-10 lead at the break.
Province then made the perfect start to the second half as flanker Rynhardt Elstadt scored under the posts almost immediately after the restart to draw the scores level.
Five minutes later WP bagged their third try as some more defensive lapses from the Sharks allowed an easy run-in for winger Dillyn Leyds.
The Sharks’ second-half slumber went from bad to worse when substitute Bongi Mbonambi scored the bonus-point try in the 52nd minute, while flyhalf Rob du Preez then added a second penalty to extend the lead to 13 points.
Fullback Odwa Ndungane kept the Sharks in the game when he finished off a well-worked try just before the hour mark, but replacement Demetri Catrakilis slotted a decisive 79th-minute penalty that had been aptly won at scrum-time to seal the result.
Pietersen then missed a simple penalty after the hooter that would have earned the Sharks a bonus point.
Sharks – Tries: André Esterhuizen, Odwa Ndungane. Conversions: Joe Pietersen. Penalties: Pietersen (6).
Western Province – Tries: Seabelo Senatla, Rynhardt Elstadt, Dillyn Leyds, Bongi Mbonambi. Conversions: Robert du Preez (4). Penalties: Du Preez (2), Demetri Catrakilis.
Sharks – 15 Odwa Ndungane, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2 Monde Hadebe, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 David McDuling, 19 Christiaan de Bruin, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Heimar Williams, 22 Garth April.
Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Nic Groom (c), 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Chris van Zyl, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Demetri Catrakilis, 22 Kobus van Wyk.
Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images