Sharks’ night of errors

2011-09-24 00:00

JOHN Plumtree’s replacements, and a stadium power failure, came to the rescue of the Sharks who fought back from a dismal opening quarter to beat Griquas 29-18 in their Currie Cup outing at King’s Park last night.

The Sharks somehow dragged four tries — and a bonus point — from what was another frustrating night of countless errors and it was only in the final quarter, and after Plumtree had cleared his bench, that the Sharks found any rhythm and continuity.

Plumtree was one grumpy coach at the final whistle and he was particularly annoyed that senior players had gone walkabout.

“Mistakes, basic errors, missed touches, it was just one thing after another,” he said. “We can’t expect to defend the Currie Cup title playing like that. We just don’t have any confidence and big players are letting us down.

“It was hard to watch and that is sad because we’re better than that.”

The first quarter was a shambles and the Sharks were, in a word, dreadful. Their passing was inaccurate, they lacked discipline and their kicking was woeful.

Veteran fullback Stefan Terblanche, in particular, had a nightmare evening. He could not put a foot right, booting the ball directly into touch from kick-offs and missing touch from a series of penalties as he kept his side under pressure.

He was in good company, though, as the rest of the Sharks, admittedly with a slippery ball following the early drizzle, stuttered from one error to the next. Even French international flyhalf Frederic Michalak struggled, sending out a stream of speculative passes that kept missing the mark, while scrumhalf Ross Cronjé, behind a ragged pack, battled to provide a slick service.

The introduction of scrumhalf Charl McLeod and centre Adi Jacobs, on for Michalak with Meyer Bosman switching to flyhalf, brought some late energy and direction to the Sharks’ side and two tries in the final quarter secured a bonus point.

Griquas’ Rudi Vogt, a late inclusion at fullback with the influential Riaan Viljoen switching to flyhalf, kicked an early penalty and then scored the opening try following a break down the left wing by wing Rocco Jansen.

Vogt converted (10-0) and it was 20 minutes before the Sharks finally threaded together a couple of passes and forced a penalty, and prop Dale Chadwick forced his way over for Frederic Michalak to convert (10-7).

Following a 10-minute break when the lights failed, the Sharks regrouped went ahead after 33 minutes as flank Jean Deysel, a shade fortunately, was awarded a try by the video referee as he stretched for the line.

The Sharks changed over 14-10 in front, but it had been an eminently forgettable first half with the Sharks unable to take advantage of a huge 11-3 penalty count and relying on Deysel to provide the only momentum.

Centre Matthew Rosslee crossed for Griquas’ second try early in the second half and a Vogt penalty took the visitors 18-14 ahead as the game entered the final quarter and Plumtree cleared the Sharks’ bench.

Sustained pressure by the improving Sharks saw Meyer Bosman, one of the better players on the night, cross before Jacobs’s superb pick-up released wing Lwazi Mvovo, who did well to squeeze in at the corner for the bonus-point try after 73 minutes (26-18). Bosman kicked a penalty on the final hooter to complete the scoring.

Griquas, in sixth place and battling to reach the semi-finals, certainly deserved some reward for their spirited efforts, but they return to Kimberley today with nothing while the Sharks, in spite of their five log points, look anything but Currie Cup champions.

SCORERS

Sharks – Tries: Dale Chadwick, Jean Deysel, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Frederick Michalak (2), Bosman. Penalty: Bosman.

Griquas – Tries: Rudi Vogt, Matthew Rosslee. Conversion: Vogt. Penalties: Vogt (2).

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