Province skipper: ‘We played against ourselves’

2012-08-13 00:00

THE Sharks were the only team to pick up an away Currie Cup win at the weekend, somehow defying rugby logic in beating Western Province 25-23 at a drenched Newlands, while the champion Lions team, with Butch James steering the ship, were impressive in their 43-20 win over the Free Staters at Ellis Park.

The Sharks, looking rusty, were badly beaten for territory and possession while they took a 15-4 penalty count from referee Lourens van der Merwe. But the Sharks took just about every scoring chance on offer, and there were precious few, to run in three tries for an extraordinary win.

Flyhalf Riaan Viljoen, in the rain and cold, proved an unlikely matchwinner, launching kicks that led to all three tries and then snapping over a drop goal after 73 minutes, to edge the Sharks in front after WP had briefly taken the lead.

The disjointed Sharks had trailed 13-3 at the break, but they scored three tries in 15 minutes to take the lead and then held on in a tense finish to grab four invaluable away points.

Their first try, immediately after half-time, was a spectacular effort in the conditions. Viljoen, on his own 22 metre line, chipped into space, centre Meyer Bosman gathered and fed centre Paul Jordaan, and the Baby Bok beat two defenders on a 60 metre run to the line, aggravating his hamstring injury on the way.

The next two tries went to the quick, opportunistic hooker Craig Burden after Province failed miserably to field high kicks by Viljoen.

WP will wonder how they failed to win this game. They camped in Sharks’ territory for most of the game, but created very little, admittedly in dreadful conditions. Their two tries — one in each half, first by Tiaan Liebenberg and then Deon Fourie — were similar, with penalties kicked to corner and then their pack rolling over from attacking lineouts.

For the rest, it was the boot of fullback Joe Pietersen who kicked both awkward conversions and three penalties, but then fluffed the kick that would have won the match, one of his easier attempts on the day, with just three minutes remaining.

Captain Deon Fourie, who excelled at the breakdown, was critical of his team-mates.

“We played against ourselves and we’re very disappointed. We made individual errors which cost us and there is plenty of hard work ahead.”

Jean Deysel, who led the Sharks, praised the young players in the team.

“I’ve very chuffed. Any victory away from home is a big victory, but we’re very pleased to have won here.”

Butch James played a major role as the Lions started off the defence of their Currie Cup title with a fine 43-20 win over the Free State Cheetahs at Ellis Park.

The Lions were beaten in the battle for possession, but they defended strongly and took their scoring chances well to score four tries, while James contributed 21 points with a faultless eight from eight kicks.

The Lions, with their shadow Super Rugby team, now travel to Durban to meet the second-string Sharks on Saturday night and they will be in confident mood after this showing.

The Blue Bulls won their Currie Cup opener 35-20 against Griquas at Loftus on Friday night.


Western Province (23): Tries: Tiaan Liebenberg, Deon Fourie. Conversions: Joe Pietersen (2). Penalties: Joe Pietersen (3). Sharks (25): Tries: Paul Jordaan, Craig Burden (2). Conversions: Meyer Bosman (2). Penalties: Meyer Bosman. Drop-goal: Riaan Viljoen. Sapa

Golden Lions (43): Tries: Derick Minnie, Andries Coetzee, Hendrik Roodt, Ruan Combrinck. Conversions: Butch James (3), Gus Cronje. Penalties: James (5). Cheetahs (20): Tries: Raymond Rhule (2). Riaan Smit (2). Penalties: Smit (2).

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first):

Friday: Free State vs Blue Bulls — 7.10 pm.

Saturday: Griquas vs WP — 2.30 pm.

Sharks vs Lions — 7.15 pm.

Currie Cup log

P W D L PD BPts Pts

Lions 1 1 0 0 23 1 5

Bulls 1 1 0 0 15 0 4

Sharks 1 1 0 0 2 0 4

WP 1 0 0 1 -2 1 1

Griquas 1 0 0 1 -15 0 0

Free State 1 0 0 1 -23 0 0

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