Sharks slip in standings

2009-10-05 00:00

WESTERN Province have their noses in front in the Currie Cup race after the Sharks failed to bag a bonus point win over the Lions at King’s Park on Saturday evening.

WP and the Sharks ended the weekend level on log points at the top of the standings with 49 points each, but the Cape Town team have the superior points’ differential and they are now favoured to meet the fourth-placed team (probably Free State) in their semi-final, while the Sharks are likely to face the Super 14 champion Bulls in Durban in the Ocober 17 play-offs.

The Sharks will be hoping that they can still finish top by winning their final round robin game against Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday and Western Province slip on their road trip to Johannesburg where they play the rejuvenated Lions..

WP coach Allister Coetzee says that the champion Sharks have a far tougher job, but after what happened at King’s Park on Saturday, neither Lions coach Hans Coetzee nor the Sharks’ John Plumtree agree.

The Sharks battled hard to beat a willing and capable Lions team 19-17 and could only score one of the four tries they needed for a bonus point.

The Sharks were pressured by the heavier Lions pack, particularly at the breakdown, where they were badly exposed. Without any forward momentum, they were unable to recycle possession quickly and play their backs into space. The Sharks backs, without any attacking spark, were also easily closed down by the Lions and they were unable to break the gain-line or play their wings into space. And so it turned into a battle of the boot and the Sharks clinched victory with a late penalty.

The Lions were eliminated from this season’s Currie Cup by the loss, but the Johannesburg side played with courage and commitment, making twice as many tackles as John Plumtree’s side

“We owe it to our fans at Ellis Park to play against Province the way we did against the Sharks,” Lions coach Hans Coetzee said.

“I’m very proud of the way the guys played. They gave everything and they will again against WP. There is no way that Province will score four tries against us either.”

Plumtree was rich in praise of the Lions’ effort and said a repeat of that form — “if they have the motivation” — could even see Province toppled on Saturday.

“But our focus is on Kimberley where we know we will have to improve dramatically if we are to beat Griquas. They would probably not have thought they could beat the Blue Bulls at Loftus (they lost 61-27) on Saturday, but they will fancy beating us in Kimberley because they have done it before.”

Captain Luke Watson ran in a hat-trick of tries as WP thumped Boland 50-7 at Newlands on Saturday. WP fielded a number of reserve players and were never threatened by the outclassed Bolanders.

Griquas kept their semi-final aspirations alive, just, by securing a crucial bonus point for their four tries against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria. They now need to either beat the Sharks or take two bonus points from the outing to avoid being overtaken by Free State for fourth place on the log. Free State play last-placed Boland in their final game.

The Bulls bagged eight tries. Springboks Bryan Habana and Morne Steyn both scored a brace, while Zane Kirchner, Danie Rossouw, Pierre Spies and Bandise Maku were the other try-scorers.

SATURDAY’S SCORES AND SCORERS

Western Province 50 Boland Cavaliers 7

Scorers: WP – Tries: Luke Watson (3), Tiaan Liebenberg, Andries Bekker, Ricky Januarie, Tonderai Chavhanga; Conversions: Joe Pietersen (6); Penalty: Pietersen. Boland Cavaliers – Try: Deon Scholtz; Conversion: Mark Harris.

Sharks 19 Lions 17

Scorers: Sharks – Try: Bismarck du Plessis; Conversion: Ruan Pienaar; Penalties: Pienaar (3); Drop goal: Juan Hernandez. Lions – Try: Chris Jonck; Penalties: Herkie Kruger (3), Jonck.

Blue Bulls 61 Griquas 27

Scorers: Blue Bulls - Tries: Zane Kirchner, Danie Rossouw, Morne Steyn (2), Pierre Spies, Bryan Habana (2), Bandise Maku; Conversions: Steyn (5), Francois Brummer; Penalties: Steyn (3). Griquas - Tries: Sarel Pretorius, Davon Raubenheimer, Barry Geel, Naas Olivier; Conversions: Naas Olivier (2); Penalties: Olivier.

Friday night: Free State Cheetahs 60 Leopards 17

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