Sharks on top after converting shaky start into emphatic win

2012-08-20 00:00

IT happened first at Newlands and then again at King’s Park on Saturday — whatever coach John Plumtree is giving his Sharks players at half-time is working a treat.

The depleted Sharks, for the second successive Saturday, transformed a shaky first half performance into an emphatic win, dumping the Currie Cup champion Golden Lions 30-14 to go to the top of the log.

The week before, they had trailed Western Province 3-13 at the break, but their second half revival and three tries took them to a 25-23 win.

On Saturday night, their scrum was in a mess as they were down 6-7 at the break. But, again, three second-half tries followed and they were left celebrating a 30-14 victory over a thinly-disguised Super Rugby outfit and the title-holders.

The early signs at King’s Park were that the sparse crowd, and the Sharks, were in for a long night.

Their scrum had problems from the start and after 16 minutes they conceded a penalty try to the powerful Lions scrum.

But two Meyer Bosman penalties kept them in touch on the scoreboard and they went into the break 6-7 down, with the Lions down to 14 men after lock Hendrik Roodt was yellow-carded by referee Mark Lawrence.

The Sharks, behind a settling scrum, came out with a spring in their step and quickly scored 10 points with a Bosman penalty and an excellent try by wing S’bura Sithole — a minute after he had dropped a Riaan Viljoen pass when faced by an open line. Bosman’s touchline conversion gave the Sharks a 16-7 lead.

The Sharks, playing high tempo rugby against a tiring Lions team, dominated the next quarter and wing Odwa Ndungane and flank Jean Deysel, crashing through three defenders, added tries with Bosman kicking the awkward conversions.

The Lions only reply was a try by flank Cobus Grobbelaar from a strong lineout drive.

Deysel, in a commanding performance, was the obvious man-of-the-match, but Bosman, Viljoen, Charl McLeod and Craig Burden were also prominent in the win.

Assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards was delighted with the quality of the rugby.

“We played some really good rugby. This is a young side, an inexperienced side.

“I thought our decision-making was really good though our accuracy and finishing off was occasionally off,” Reece-Edwards said.

He said that the Lions had a heavy, organised scrum and they had taken advantage.

“Our guys are still trying to find their feet although that’s certainly no excuse. This week they will have to go back and really work hard because it becomes a big week for us to try and rectify it before we play the Blue Bulls.”

He said the one disappointment was not picking up the bonus point for four tries.

“It’s something we really wanted, but we are the only unbeaten side after two rounds.”

Reece-Edwards said that Viljoen was “okay” after being accidentally booted in the face by Butch James, while Bosman had a bruised knee.

“Everyone should be fine for Loftus,” he added.

In other weekend games, prop Steven Kitshoff scored the crucial try with 15 minutes to play as Western Province came from behind to beat Griquas 25-20 in Kimberley.

WP, playing into the wind, started badly and trailed 0-12 with early tries by Rynard Landman and Wilmaure Louw.

But Ederies Arendse scored in the dying minutes of the half, before JP du Plessis and Kitshoff completed the turnaround, which gave Allister Coetzee’s side a first win of the season.

In Bloemfontein, right wing Riaan Smit succeeded with all seven of his kicks at goal (five penalties and two conversions) as the Cheetahs beat the Blue Bulls 32-18 and bounced back from their 43-20 first round loss to the Lions.

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