Rampant Sharks thrash Leopards

2013-02-09 00:00

INJURIES to captain Keegan Daniel and centre Tim Whitehead knocked some of the glitter from the Sharks’ rollicking 71-8 win over the Leopards in the friendly played in front of a near-capacity crowd at Woodburn Stadium last night.

Some 10 000 spectators braved the damp conditions and were rewarded with 12 tries — 11 by the Sharks — and moments of sublime rugby in the opening game of the season.

The bad news came later when coach John Plumtree provided his medical report.

Backrower Daniel, who took the field at half time, lasted just 12 minutes before damaging knee ligaments and limping from the field. Plumtree said that Daniel could be sidelined between four and six weeks while Whitehead is believed to broken his arm.

The Sharks have depth in both the midfield (Paul Jordaan, Meyer Bosman and Frans Steyn) and at loose forward (Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Jean Deysel , Jacques Botes, Ryan Kankowski and Tera Mthembu) but the loss of two regulars, and his captain, was a setback for Plumtree in the first outing of the year.

Still, Plumtree was happy with what he saw on the night. “The boys were sharp and I thought there was some really good stuff at times, particularly when we were able to string four or five phases together.

“Still, there is a good deal to work on over the next fortnight.”

The Leopards were willing opponents but they lacked the skill and power to match the Sharks.

With flyhalf Pat Lambie showing excellent early-season form, and varying his lines of attack, the Sharks started with a flourish and were 31-3 up after half-an-hour.

They lost some of the structure in the 20 minutes either side of half time as replacements came and went before regaining their rhythm and scoring six more tries in the final half-hour.

What will have pleased Plumtree was the eagerness of the players, the speed at which the ball was recycled and the excellent support play — with Mthembu outstanding — while the Leopards battled with the Sharks scrum, particularly after Beast Mtawarira took the field in the second half.

But less impressive was the lineout, where the Sharks conceded possession on a number of occasions, while their drive from the lineout lacked cohesion.

The Sharks take on the Pumas in Nelspruit next Friday evening in the second and final warm-up game and open their Super Rugby campaign against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on February 23.

SCORERS

Sharks – Tries by Pat Lambie, Jacques Botes (2), Tera Mthembu (3), Odwa Ndungane, Lwazi Mvovo (2), Jean Deysel and All Dell. Conversions: Lambie (5), Meyer Bosman (3).

Leopards: Try by Elardus Venter. Penalty by Johnny Welthagen.

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