Sharks hang on to log lead, but cannot afford to relax yet

2010-09-13 00:00

THE Sharks remain in pole position after 10 rounds of Currie Cup action with an eight-point cushion at the top of the log.

There are only four games still to be played, but the Sharks, desperate to hold on to top spot to secure home ground advantage in the play-offs, cannot afford to relax.

Three of their games are against teams lying second, third and fourth on the log and two are on the road.

The Sharks face the third-placed Free State Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday. Away games against the Lions (fourth) and Western Province (second) then sandwich with a home clash against the Leopards in between.

Sharks coach John Plumtree said yesterday that he was “satisfied” with the weekend 30-14 win over the Pumas in Witbank.

“We were not as clinical as we needed to be in the second half, but we had the lead and the bonus point and we set out to dominate territory and get our defence right.

“We did that and snuffed them out of the game. While it may not have looked that good on television, there were a lot of positives in the second half.”

Plumtree said that the Pumas had successfully spoilt the Sharks’ possession at the breakdown and were allowed to slow down their ball and use spoiling tactics to pressure scrumhalf Charl McLeod.

“We found it hard to get quick ball going and perhaps the ref wasn’t really hard enough on them.

“You’re going to get that against these teams, but I hope that when we play the big teams, we’ll manage to get quick ball and be a little bit more of a threat out wide.”

He said that the Sharks, by way of a change, had not picked up any injuries.

Both the Cheetahs, who downed the Blue Bulls 20-14 in Bloemfontein at the weekend, and the Lions, 40-29 winners over Griquas at Ellis Park, are on a roll at the moment while Western Province regained the winning trail with an emphatic 59-17 win over the lowly Leopards.

The Lions were untidy in overcoming a Griqua side battling injury and fatigue.

“We were sloppy,” Lions coach John Mitchell said later, “but we won without playing well.”

The Free Staters secured their fourth successive Currie Cup victory in beating the Bulls. The Free Staters scored a sensational try just 20 seconds into the game when they ran the ball from their own line from the kick-off and flank Philip van der Walt crossed.

The Bulls fought back to lead 11-7 at the break but the critical score came with 20 minutes remaining when Free State took the ball through phase after phase before flank Hendro Scholtz finally barged over. The Bulls attacked furiously in the final minutes, but the Free State defence held firm for a vital win.

 

Scores and scorers in Saturday’s games:

Lions 40 Griquas 29

Lions: Tries: Jaco Taute (2), Josh Strauss, Jannie Boshoff. Conversions: Jantjies (4). Penalties: Jantjies (4). Griquas: Tries: Jean Botha, Rocco Jansen, Bjorn Basson, Rudi Vogt. Conversions: Naas Olivier (2), Rudi Vogt. Penalties: Olivier (1)

Free State 20 Blue Bulls 14

Cheetahs: Tries: Philip van der Walt, Hendro Scholtz. Conversions: Louis Strydom (2). Penalty: Strydom (2). Bulls: Tries: Jaco van der Westhuizen. Penalties: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (3).

Western Province 59 Leopards 17

WP: Tries: Deon Fourie, Francois Louw (2), Brok Harris, Nick Koster, Dewaldt Duvenhage, Yaya Hartzenburg, Anton van Zyl and Juan de Jongh. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (4). Willem de Waal (3). Leopards: Tries: Reginald Kember and Theo van Wyk. Conversions: Clayton Durand (2). Penalties: Durand.

At Witbank (Friday): Pumas 14 Sharks 30.

 

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