Revived Sharks close on leaders

2012-05-28 00:00

THE Sharks continued their late season revival with a superb 25-20 win over the log-leading Stormers on a damp Saturday evening at King’s Park, but two bonus points, won and lost in the final quarter, could still prove decisive in the fight for top spot in the South African conference.

The sixth-placed Sharks have closed to within three points of the Bulls (they meet at King’s Park early in July) and five off the Stormers on the log.

It was the Sharks’ fourth successive victory, but they could still rue, first, their failure to score a fourth try for a bonus point and, second, a couple of late errors that allowed the Stormers to fight back for a bonus point of their own.

The Chiefs have replaced the Stormers at the top of the table following their 28-22 win over the Bulls in Hamilton on Friday.

The Cheetahs, by way of a change, held on to win a close game, edging the Waratahs 35-34 in a tense finish in Bloemfontein. The Cheetahs were down 34-21 in the second half, but two converted tries by WP Nel and Willie le Roux, and a crucial turnover on the final whistle, secured the win.

The Lions went missing in the second half and suffered their 11th successive defeat, 17-11 to the struggling Force in Perth, and then heard that their Springbok prop, CJ van der Linde, who was cited for biting, faces a lengthy ban.

The Highlanders broke a 10-year run of defeats to hold off the fast-finishing Blues 27-20 at Eden Park, while the Hurricanes made merry against the Rebels in Wellington, running in nine tries in a 66-24 thumping.

The Brumbies could have beaten the Reds with the last kick of the game, but flyhalf Zack Holmes fluffed his reasonably easy attempt and the Australian conference leaders went down 12-11 to the title-holders.

The Sharks led a ragged, pressured Stormers side 25-6 early in the second half after wing Lwazi Mvovo, on the end of a sublime Marcell Coetzee off-load, tiptoed down the touchline to score. There appeared every likelihood of their taking five log points from the game, but the Stormers’ resilience and character denied the Sharks and they could only make up three points on the log.

The Sharks had dominated the first half, running in two tries (by Freddie Michalak and Keegan Daniel) as their scrum dominated and they knocked back the Stormers at the breakdown.

But the mood of the game changed in the 12th minute of the second half when flyhalf Michalak, in making a rare error, threw a wild pass and the Stormers’ fullback Gio Aplon intercepted for a try (25-13).

The Stormers immediately grew in confidence and, winning six successive penalties, applied all the pressure for the next 20 minutes. The Sharks defence somehow held and it was only broken when referee Jaco Peyper and his two assistants missed a blatant forward pass by Jean de Villiers, which allowed Aplon, running an excellent angle, to burst through to score (25-20).

The Sharks held firm for the closing 10 minutes for the win in what was a pulsating contest.

This weekend the Sharks travel to Ellis Park to face the Lions while the Stormers meet the returning Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Sharks 25 (20): Tries: Freddie Michalak, Keegan Daniel, Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Pat Lambie (2). Penalties: Lambie (2). Stormers 20 (6): Tries: Gio Aplon (2). Conversions: Peter Grant (2). Penalties: Grant (2).

Cheetahs 35 (21) - Tries: Piet van Zyl, Willie le Roux (2), Adriaan Strauss, WP Nel. Conversions: Riaan Smit (4), Sias Ebersohn. Waratahs 34 (31) - Tries: Dave Dennis, Sitaleki Timani (2), Rob Horne. Conversions: Brendan McKibbin (4). Penalties: McKibbin (2)

Force 17 (3) – Tries: David Pocock, Napolioni Nalaga. Conversions: Ben Seymour (2). Penalties: Seymour. Lions 11 (8) – Tries: Michael Killian. Penalties: Elton Jantjies, Ruan Combrinck.

Brumbies 12 (6): Penalties: Zack Holmes (4). Reds 13 (10) – Tries: Luke Morahan. Conversions: Mike Harris. Penalties: Harris (2).

Hurricanes 66 (38) – Tries: Andre Taylor (2), Alapati Leiua (2), Julian Savea (3), Jack Lam, Chris Eaton. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (9). Penalties: Barrett. Rebels 24 (17) – Tries: Cooper Vuna (2), Adam Freier. Conversions: Kurtley Beale (2), Richard Kingi. Penalties: Beale

Blues 20 (6) - Tries: Tevita Mailau, Tony Woodcock. Conversions: Gareth Anscombe, Lachie Munro. Penalties: Anscombe (2). Highlanders 27 (15) – Tries: Tamati Ellison, Hosea Gear (2), Adam Thomson. Conversions: Chris Noakes (2). Penalties: Noakes

Played Friday

Chiefs 28 Bulls 22

Bye: Crusaders

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first, SA times):

Friday

Crusaders v Highlanders 9.35 am

Rebels v Brumbies 11.40 am

Saturday

Blues v Chiefs 9.35 am

Waratahs v Hurricanes 11.40 am

Lions v Sharks 5.05 pm

Bulls v Stormers 7.10 pm

Byes: Cheetahs, Force, Reds.

LOG:

P W D L PD BPts Pts

Chiefs 12 10 0 2 83 5 53

Stormers 12 10 0 2 69 2 50

Brumbies 12 7 0 5 64 9 45

Bulls 12 8 0 4 97 8 48

Saders 12 8 0 4 89 6 46

Sharks 13 8 0 5 57 9 45

H'ders 13 9 0 4 19 4 44

Reds 13 8 0 5 -25 4 40

H'canes 13 7 0 6 35 8 40

Cheetahs 13 5 0 8 -25 8 32

Waratahs 13 4 0 9 -20 10 30

Rebels 12 4 0 8 -125 5 29

Force 13 3 0 10 -86 7 23

Blues 13 2 0 11 -101 5 17

Lions 12 1 0 11 -131 3 15

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