Sharks dazzle against Leopards

2010-08-14 00:00

THE Sharks attacked in style and defended with vigour to thump the Leopards 51-6 in the Currie Cup match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Phokeng last night.

The Sharks, with their fourth try on the break, had their bonus point by half-time and they crossed the Leopards’ line three more times in the second half in another slick, fast-moving, highly impressive performance.

The quick passing and excellent support play proved too much for the Leopards, but what would have pleased Sharks coach John Plumtree even more was the commitment and organisation his players showed in defence.

Even after they had reached the 50-mark with 10 minutes remaining, they refused to declare and kept making tackle after tackle to deny the willing, if untidy, Leopards a try.

“I’m delighted with the guys,” captain Stefan Terblanche said after the game. “We put them under pressure throughout and what really pleased me was the character we showed in defence for 80 minutes.”

Wilhelm Kock, the Leopards captain, admitted his side had been outclassed on the night.

“All credit to the Sharks. They played very well. They were more physical than us at the breakdown and they forced us into many errors.”

The Sharks took time to settle, but after 10 minutes wing Lwazi Mvovo’s well-worked try cancelled out the two early penalties by Neill Jacobs (7-6).

Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie, who was neat and productive without matching the heroics of his recent games, took the Sharks clear after the first quarter with two penalties (13-6) and then prop Pat Cilliers and number eight Willem Alberts were driven over from short range. The contest had been settled after 34 minutes (27-6).

Sharks fullback Louis Ludik rounded off a superb movement for the bonus point try on half-time and the Sharks were 32-6 ahead at the break.

Scrumhalf Rory Kockott burst away for a try early in the second half and Terblanche, far more effective than he was a week ago against the Lions, rounded off flowing movements for the Sharks’ final two tries (51-6).

The Leopards bravely kept hammering away at every opportunity, but the Sharks kept making their tackles and retaining their structures in defence to deny the home side.

It was, again, very much a team effort, but Plumtree will be encouraged by the strong scrum, the all-round efforts of lock Ross Skeate, the work rate of loose forwards Keegan Daniel, Jacques Botes and Willem Alberts, and the straight running of the backs.

Kockott does not provide the clean, quick service of Charl McLeod, but he is a constant nuisance at the base of the scrum and Plumtree has a difficult choice between the two.

Centre Andries Strauss continued his recent solid form and wing Mvovo, showing pace and an elusive step, kept threatening the Leopards’ defence.

The replacements also made an impact in the closing minutes with centre Riaan Swanepoel making the biggest tackles of the night, while hooker Bismarck du Plessis, desperate to be involved, frustratingly conceded his usual rash of late penalties.

The Sharks’ five points took them three clear at the top of the Currie Cup log but second-placed Western Province could regain the lead by beating the Blue Bulls at Newlands today.

It was another highly successful night for the Sharks, who again showed that they can win emphatically and still play entertaining rugby.

SCORERS

Shar ks: Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Cilliers, Willem Alberts, Louis Ludik, Rory Kockott, Stefan Terblanche (2). Conversions: Patrick Lambie (3), Kockott (2). Penalties: Lambie (2).

Leopards: Penalties: Neill Jacobs (2).

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