Sharks fumble in rain

2013-10-14 00:00

THE Sharks’ lack of precision cost them a potential Currie Cup final when they were beaten 17-13 by Western Province in the top-of-the-log league clash at a sodden King’s Park on Saturday night.

Province ended the Currie Cup season unbeaten and will deservedly host the final at Newlands if they first beat the fourth-placed Golden Lions in Saturday’s semi-final in Cape Town.

The Sharks, after frittering and fumbling their way to defeat on Saturday, now have the more difficult semi-final and take on the Free State Cheetahs — and their thinly-disguised Super Rugby side — in their play-off at King’s Park on Saturday night.

It was a familiar story for the Sharks and their supporters in the Durban rain on Saturday. The Sharks, particularly in the second half, dominated the territory battle, but their execution suffered in the dreadful conditions. In contrast, Province were more accurate in winning the ball from the set pieces, looking after it and then taking their fewer scoring opportunities.

It was still desperately close with each side scoring a try — Province in the first half through flank Deon Fourie from a turnover and the Sharks in the second when No 8 Keegan Daniel twirled over in the corner following an excellent Lwazi Mvovo pass.

The Sharks, who trailed 14-6 at the break, then turned with the wind and spent most of the second half in Province territory. But, kept in check by the superb Province defence, they could add only seven points to their tally.

Province’s marked superiority in the lineouts and scrums, the superb work of Duane Vermeulen at the tackle and the Sharks’ inability to kick four penalties in the testing conditions — while Demetri Catrakilis nailed three penalties and a drop — finally proved the difference.

In spite of their problems in the scrums and lineouts, the Sharks should have won this game in the final 12 minutes, but flyhalf Pat Lambie, who replaced Fred Zeilinga at half time, missed two relatively easy penalties (admittedly, in the wind and rain but after kicking the conversion of Daniel’s try from the touchline). Vermeulen then turned over the ball three times in five minutes in defensive situations and the game was won and lost.

The powerful Vermeulen was an obvious man of the match, but young prop Steven Kitshoff and Eben Etzebeth, in the lineouts, were prominent. The soggy conditions negated the attacking efforts of both backlines, but Sharks fullback SP Marais battled hard to make inroads while Lambie, when not kicking at goal, showed his quality in the second half.

What was curious was how poorly the Sharks scrum performed. The Test front-row of the Du Plessis brothers and Beast Mtawarira has troubled the Wallaby, Puma and All Black scrums this year, but the young Province pack more than had their measure as they grabbed a couple of tightheads.

Sharks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit became increasingly more influential during the night while there were strong showings from flank Jean Deysel, Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira.

The Cheetahs (third) and Lions (fourth) finished the pool stages level on 26 points and were separated on the log by the points’ difference in the matches played against each other.

The Cheetahs beat the disappointing Blue Bulls 22-7 in Bloemfontein on Saturday and the Golden Lions had to come from behind in the closing quarter to beat a depleted Griquas 35-28 at Ellis Park with a Willie Britz try five minutes before the hooter settling the contest.

Free State coach Naka Drotské praised the defensive effort of his players in denying the Bulls. “I am very proud of the guys reaching the semi-finals, especially the effort they put in on defence. We tackled the Bulls back and were solid around the breakdowns.”

Drotské said he was concerned about the Cheetahs’ scrums and poor discipline ahead of the semi-final against the Sharks. Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen was penalised on numerous occasions and replacement prop Schalk van der Merwe was red-carded for a dangerous tackle.

“We will work through the video of the scrums and communicate with [referee] Marius Jonker on what went wrong there. These are all things that can be rectified during the week,” said Drotské.


Sharks 13: Try: Keegan Daniel. Conversion: Pat Lambie. Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (2). WP 17: Try: Deon Fourie. Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (3).Drop goal: Catrakilis

Free State Cheetahs 22: Tries: Robert Ebersohn, Elgar Watts, Adriaan Strauss.Conversions: Watts (2). Penalty: Watts. Blue Bulls 7: Try: Marcel van der Merwe. Conversion: Handré Pollard

Golden Lions 35: Tries: Jacques van Rooyen, Anthony Volmink, Willie Wepener, Willie Britz. Conversions: Manitz Boshoff (3). Penalties: Boshoff (3). Griquas 28: Try: Rocco Jansen. Conversion: Gouws Prinsloo. Penalties: Prinsloo (7).

Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final line-ups

WP v Golden Lions (2.30 pm).

Sharks v Free State (5:00 pm).

P W D L PD BPts Pts

WP 10 8 2 0 44 1 37

Sharks 10 7 0 3 48 5 33

FS 10 5 0 5 24 6 26

Lions 10 4 1 5 30 8 26

Bulls 10 3 1 6 -28 3 17

Griquas 10 1 0 9 -118 7 11

Currie Cup log

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