Sharp and clinical Sharks cut through Cheetahs defence

2011-08-01 00:00

THE unbeaten Sharks and Golden Lions remain locked at the top of the Currie Cup after a weekend in which Western Province’s crushing win over the once mighty Blue Bulls was the most significant result.

The Sharks flourished and then faltered, but held on to gain an important 43-34 win over the Free State Cheetahs while the Lions were given a nasty scare by the Leopards before breaking clear to win 53-36 at Ellis Park.

But even Province supporters were surprised at the ease with which their team routed the Bulls 35-7 for a bonus point win at Newlands and they remain third on the log.

Province ran in two tries in each half, flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis was in fine form with the boot with 15-points while young backrow, led by number eight Nick Koster, played prominent roles as backs and forwards combined effectively. The Bulls, in contrast, lacked an attacking edge and kicked away too much possession.

The Lions outscored the Leopards by eight tries to five in their 53-36 and led 29-15 at half-time lead. But John Mitchell’s Lions went walkabout in the second half and the spirited Leopards fought back to 36-36 with 10 minutes remaining before the relieved Lions scored two late tries for the win.

The Sharks, sharp and clinical, took advantage of the Cheetahs’ poor opening quarter to score their bonus point try by the 21st minute at King’s Park. They were 31-10 ahead after their fifth try within half-an-hour, but then had to rely on the boot of flyhalf Frederic Michalak, with four second-half penalties, for the 43-34 Currie Cup win at King’s Park on Saturday.

The Cheetahs, turning over possession and sloppy in defence, conceded tries to Jacques Botes (2), Mark Richards, an impressive Sibusiso Sithole and Louis Ludik for their rush of tries. But the Free Staters improved markedly in the second half when the Sharks lost their discipline and structure and were heavily penalised.

A fourth Free State try, their best of the day, and Sias Ebersohn’s excellent touchline conversion and then a penalty with six minutes remaining (40-34) suggested a fairytale finish for the Cheetahs, but Michalak calmly goaled an angled penalty from 35 metres to seal the win (43-34) in the 78th minute.

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Sharks 43: Tries - Jacques Botes (2), Mark Richards, Louis Ludik and Sibusiso Sithole. Conversions: Frederic Michalak (3). Penalties: Michalak (4). Cheetahs 34: Tries Riaan Smit, Boom Prinsloo, WP Nel, Corne Uys. Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (4). Penalties: Sias Ebersohn (2). Western Province 35: Tries: Tiaan Liebenberg, Danie Poolman, Nick Koster and Dewaldt Duvenage. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (3). Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (3). Bulls 7: Try: Stephan Dippenaar. Conversion: Francois Brummer. Lions 53: Tries: Jano Vermaak, Dylan des Fountain, Deon van Rensburg (2), Cobus Grobbelaar, Wikus van Heerden, Jacobie Adriaanse, Michael Rhodes. Conversions: Burton Francis (5). Penalty: Francis. Leopards 36: Tries: Phillip de Wet (2), Wynand Willis, Danie Dames, Whestley Moolman. Conversions: Du Rand (1), Wesley Dunlop (3). Penalty: Clayton du Rand. Friday night result: Pumas 33 Griquas 40.

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first):

Friday – Leopards vs Pumas (7 pm); Griquas vs Sharks (7.10 pm).

Saturday – Free Sate vs WP (3 pm); Blue Bulls vs Lions (5.05 pm).

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