Sharks’ Bloem takeaway

2013-02-25 00:00

The Sharks, Southern Kings and Bulls were all smiling after picking up crucial wins in the opening weekend of Super Rugby.

The Sharks started impressively, but almost fluffed their lines in the final quarter in Bloemfontein before squeezing home 29-22 against a fast-finishing Cheetahs. The debutant Kings surprised even themselves by making a piece of history in Port Elizabeth with a 22-10 win over Australia’s Force while the Bulls gained the most satisfying of 25-17 wins over the fancied Stormers at Loftus on Friday night.

With Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie all composure and accuracy, and their forwards organised and in control, the Sharks were cruising at 26-5 after an hour. The rusty Cheetahs outfit were struggling along with their young flyhalf Johan Goosen woefully out of touch after an extended break. Wing Lwazi Mvovo, took advantage of a lucky bounce, scored the first Sharks try and flank Marcell Coetzee the second off a lineout drive.

But, as is their wont, the Cheetahs suddenly sparkled into life. The Sharks, perhaps tiring in the Free State heat, lost their focus and structure, turning over possession and providing the Cheetahs with chances to strut their stuff in broken play. The introduction of Sarel Pretorius at scrumhalf also lifted the Cheetahs, and Goosen, suddenly finding his confidence and goal-kicking form, added to the Sharks’ late problems.

A rush of 17 points — two tries, converted by Goosen and a penalty — in minutes cut the Sharks’ lead to 26-22 before a late Lambie penalty, good scrummaging and a match-saving tackle by replacement Meyer Bosman in the closing minutes, secured the win.

Sharks captain Francois Steyn said later that he had expected the Cheetahs to counter in the final quarter.

“I’m proud of the guys that we pulled it off and got off a good start to give us a chance in the competition. Our pack were dominating, but there is a lot of stuff for us to work on.”

As Goosen battled with his goalkicking, the faultless Lambie succeeded with all seven of his attempts (five penalties and two conversions), and controlled the tactical flow of the game effectively, pinning the Cheetahs back in their own half for long periods.

The Man-of-the Match said the Sharks’ lungs were blowing on the highveld and he wanted to turn the Cheetahs to take the pressure off his forwards.

“I’m really enjoying being settled in the one position of flyhalf.”

The Kings had a night to remember in Port Elizabeth as they delighted their 32 000 supporters and defied their detractors with a 12-point win.

The Kings became the first team to join Super Rugby and win on debut. There was another record as Man-of-the-Match Sergeal Petersen — at 18 years and 206 days old — became the youngest South African to play Super Rugby since 1997. Petersen, who was at Grey High in PE just four months ago, celebrated with two tries.

“We knew it was crucial to get a win today to get the public behind us,” Kings centre Andries Strauss said. “We must keep our feet on the ground, it is only our first step into this competition.”

Strauss replaced the injured Luke Watson as captain during the game.

The Sharks now take on the Stormers at King’s Park on Saturday night in a repeat of the semi-final last year.

The Brumbies, under Jake White, head the table after their second successive win while the defending champion Chiefs, the Blues, under new coach John Kirwan, and the Reds recorded wins.

The Chiefs beat a strong Highlanders unit 41-27 while the Blues had a 34-20 win away to the Hurricanes. The Reds staved off a determined comeback by the Waratahs to win the Australian derby 25-17. The Brumbies, who beat the Reds in Week One, made it two from two with a bonus-point 30-13 victory over the Melbourne Rebels.

SATURDAY’S SCORES AND SCORERS:

Cheetahs 22 Sharks 29

Cheetahs: Tries: Philip Van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne and Johann Sadie. Conversions: Johan Goosen (2). Penalty: Goosen. Sharks: Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, Marcell Coetzee. Conversions: Patrick Lambie (2). Penaties: Lambie (5).

Kings 22 Force 10

Kings: Tries: Sergeal Petersen (2). Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (4). Force: Tries: Pekahou Cowan, Alifeleti Mafi.

Reds 25 Waratahs 17

Reds: Tries: Dom Shipperley, Ben Tapuai(2). Conversions: Mike Harris (2). Penalties: Mike Harris (2). Waratahs: Tries: Israel Folau, Ben Volavola. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalties: Brendan McKibbin (1).

Hurricanes 20 Blues 34

Hurricanes: Tries: Julian Savea. Penalty try. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2). Penalties: Beauden Barrett (2). Blues: Tries: Frank Halai (2) , Charles Piutau, Rene Ranger. Conversions: Piri Weepu (1). Penalties: Piri Weepu (4) .

PLAYED FRIDAY:

Bulls 25 Stomers 17

Rebels 13 Brumbies 30

Highlanders 27 Chiefs 41

Weekend bye: Crusaders (NZL)

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

FRIDAY

Blues v Crusaders 8.30 am

Waratahs v Rebels 10.20 am

Reds v Hurricanes 12.20 pm

SATURDAY:

Chiefs v Cheetahs 8.35 am

Bulls v Force 5.05 pm

Sharks v Stormers 7.10 pm

Byes: Brumbies, Highlanders, Kings

COMBINED LOG:

P W D L PD BPts Pts

Brumbies 2 2 0 0 35 1 9

Blues 1 1 0 0 14 1 5

Kings 1 1 0 0 12 0 4

Chiefs 1 1 0 0 14 1 5

Bulls 1 1 0 0 8 0 4

Sharks 1 1 0 0 7 0 4

Rebels 2 1 0 1 -10 0 4

Reds 2 1 0 1 -10 0 4

Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0 0 4

Waratahs 1 0 0 1 -8 0 4

Cheetahs 1 0 0 1 -7 1 1

Force 2 0 0 2 -19 1 1

Stormers 1 0 0 1 -8 0 0

High'ders 1 0 0 1 -14 0 0

H'canes 1 0 0 1 -14 0 0

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