Sharks overwhelm Leopards

2010-10-02 00:00

THE Sharks blew hot and cold but still romped to an emphatic 63-6 win over the Leopards at King’s Park last night to cement their lead at the top of the Currie Cup log.

The Sharks now have a nine-point cushion at the top of the log, but second-placed Western Province will be hoping to cut that back to five when they meet the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld this afternoon. Defeat for Province in Pretoria — where they have struggled in recent years — will leave the Sharks in an unassailable position at the top with their game at Newlands ending their league action next Saturday.

The Sharks, securing five log points last night, are assured of a home Currie Cup semi-final.

The Sharks were never seriously troubled by the Leopards, scoring their bonus point try (for four tries) within the opening quarter. They dozed off in the second quarter, adding only one more try before the break (35-6), and then showed patchy form in the second half to score four more tries for their win.

A greasy ball on a hot Durban evening contributed to the many handling and passing errors and the Sharks coach John Plumtree will be concerned that the Sharks were not more ruthless in their finishing.

But there was also much to admire in the Sharks’ win and a number of their players gained valuable exposure after lengthy breaks.

One was Springbok Andre Pretorius who showed several delightful touches at flyhalf, passing deftly, tackling strongly and kicking all six of his conversions.

With Pat Lambie replacing him in the last quarter, and converting the final three tries, the Sharks had a faultless kicking record on the night.

Big lock Gerhard Mostert, in his first Currie Cup outing, made an encouraging start and Bok tighthead Jannie du Plessis was another to impress.

But the man-of-the-match award went to captain on the night, flank Keegan Daniel, who scored the opening two tries and was fiercely committed until being replaced late in the game.

There was one worrying moment at the end of the first quarter when burly flank Willem Alberts left the field with a knee problem and Plumtree will be hoping the injury is not serious.

Daniel, twice, Du Plessis and fullback Louis Ludik crossed for tries inside 20 minutes for the bonus point and wing Odwa Ndungane crossed on half-time for the fifith try and a 35-6 lead at the break.

Ndungane, fellow wing Lwazi Mvovo and props Eugene van Staden and Du Plessis scored the second-half tries and Pretorius and Lambie between them added the nine conversions.

Clayton Durban kicked two penalties for the Leopards who battled on the night, both with the faster, stronger Sharks and the slippery ball.

Their captain Riaan Swanepoel said later that they had no answer to the Sharks.

“It was very tough and the Sharks were far more clinical than us.”

Daniel said the Sharks had started well but he was disappointed they lost their structure in the first half once the bonus point had been secured.

“But we were more clinical in the second half. The humidity was a problem for the first time in the Currie Cup and the ball was slippery. But I’m pleased we are in a good position in the Currie Cup and we are looking forward to Newlands next Saturday.”

POINTS SCORERS

Conversions: Andre Pretorius (6), Pat Lambie (3).

Leopards: Penalties: Clayton Durand (2).

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