Sharks win a messy affair

2011-08-20 00:00

THE Sharks looked anything but Currie Cup champions as they made exceedingly heavy weather of beating the Leopards 23-3 at King’s Park last night.

The Sharks dominated every area of the game but were messy in controlling possession and missed an excellent opportunity of picking up a bonus point as they ran in only three second-half tries in their scrappy win.

The only really good news of the evening was that the Lions were edged out 28-26 by Western Province in a see-sawing contest in Cape Town and this allowed the Sharks to close within one point of the log-leaders.

The Sharks now face the Lions at Ellis Park next weekend and they will not do so with any confidence after this limp and ragged showing.

The Sharks were never in any danger of defeat but their lack of continuity of attack and inability to turn pressure into points against the bottom-of-the-log Leopards will be worrying coach John Plumtree.

The first half was a mixture of frustration and missed opportunities for the Sharks. They spent most of the half inside the Leopards’ territory but their rhythm was constantly broken by unforced errors and a series of re-set scrums. There was precious little rugby with both sides lacking control and referee Lourens van der Merwe failing to take control of the untidy scrums.

The few scoring opportunities which came their way were wasted by the Sharks who could not even take advantage in the first half when Leopards lock Brendon Snyman was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle.

Flyhalf Fredic Michalak, uncharacteristically, missed an easy penalty but he did, finally, kick two (in the 33rd and 36th minutes) for the Sharks to take a 6-0 lead at the break.

Springbok scrumhalf Charl McLeod, on for Conrad Hoffman in the second half, brought some urgency to the Sharks but it was again a half of many stoppages and re-set scrums.

The Sharks finally fashioned their first try after nine minutes in the second half when a patient build-up took the ball through a series of phases before wing Odwa Ndungane had an easy run-in.

The King’s Park faithful hoped that the gates would finally open but they had to wait until the final quarter for the Sharks’ other two tries. First Ndungane, after a strong attacking scrum, scored in the corner and then replacement Stefan Terblanche burst over in the closing minutes.

The Leopards made only rare sorties into Sharks territory and their only points came from a Wesley Dunlop penalty.

The Sharks’ problems were compounded in the closing minutes when replacement flank Keegan Daniel was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle and that, really, summed up their disappointing night.

The outstanding Sharks player on the night was again young flank Marcell Coetzee who was prominent on both attack and defence — as he has been throughout the Currie Cup — while Ndungane took his few chances on the wing.

But this was not a night to remember for the King’s Park crowd and the Sharks, who will have to improve dramatically to down the Lions at Ellis Park next weekend.

SCORERS

Sharks: Tries: Odwa Ndungane (2) and Stefan Terblanche. Frederic Michalak kicked two penalties and one conversion.

Leopards: Penalty: Wesley Dunlop.

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