Sharks get a good run in scrappy game

2009-01-25 00:00

IT was, said Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford, a typical pre-season friendly, scrappy and untidy, but it was still a worthwhile exercise.

The Sharks, fielding very much a second-string outfit, travelled to Witbank at the weekend and came away with a 19-7 win over a lively Pumas combination.

Observers were disappointed by the quality of the rugby, which saw the Sharks run in three tries to one and Bashford agreed there was little to entertain the crowd.

“It was not a good spectacle. It was ragged and untidy with little structure. There was little continuity because the breakdowns under the new ELVs were a mess. But it was what we needed at this stage of the season, a physical contest to test our depth and young players.”

Bashford said he was impressed by the Pumas.

“They played very well and certainly did not hold back. They also had a typically big, powerful pack and our guys are today nursing a lot of bumps and bruises.”

The good news, he added, was that the Sharks had not picked up any serious injuries.

The focus, obviously, was on John Smit, the one Springbok to start on the day.

“He had a good hit-out, starting at tighthead prop and then moving to hooker in the second half and that improved the Sharks scrum.”

Bashford said that loose forwards Justin Downey and Skholiwe Ndlovu, lock Alistair Hargreaves and, among the backs, Monty Dumond, new cap Len Olivier and centre Luzuko Vulindlu, were among those who emerged with credit.

The addition of Ruan Pienaar, Johann Muller and Rory Kockott to the Sharks line-up in the second half also brought some structure but they still struggle to break down the Pumas strong defence.

Leading just 12-7 at half-time, the Sharks only managed to put the game beyond doubt in the 70th minute — when Len Olivier scored his team’s only try of he second half.

The Sharks, with the Springboks returning, will now play an internal trial game on Friday at King’s Park before taking on the Bulls in the final warm-up game to the Super 14 in Durban on February 4. The Super 14 opener is against the Stormers on February 14 in Cape Town.

Scorers:

Sharks: Tries: Monty Dumond, Luzako Vulindlu, Len Olivier. Conversions: Dumond, Ruan Pienaar.

Pumas: Try: Valentine van Wyk. Conversion: Rudi Vogt.

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