Sharks could pay price

2014-04-14 00:00

THE Sharks were back in business on Saturday when they beat the Lions 25-12 and returned to the top of the Super Rugby table after they had been momentarily leap-frogged by the Brumbies and Chiefs who had been in action earlier.

It still has to be seen what cost the win, their first on the road, came with as flyhalf Fred Zeilinga limped off the park in the first half looking like he will add to the Sharks’ injury woes.

The game will not go down in the annals of rugby as being one of the classics, but the Sharks, aided by the educated right boot of Frans Steyn and the defence of S’bura Sithole, crossed the finish line in first place, starting the current run of games the way coach Jake White would have wanted.

Before having to leave the game with what looked like a hamstring pull, Zeilinga slotted two penalties in the first five minutes of the game to give the men in black and white a 6-0 advantage.

The Lions seemed to be handed a lifeline when in a short space of time, the visitors lost Jannie du Plessis to the sin bin for a shoulder charge on Lionel Mapoe and Zeilinga to injury.

The dependable Marnitz Boshoff slotted a penalty to cut the gap to three and it looked as though the Lions would be able to play themselves back into the game when Boshoff levelled matters.

However, the visitors enjoyed the advantage at half time after a Francois Steyn penalty took the score to 9-6.

The two teams traded further penalties and, with the score at 15-12 to the Sharks in the 66th minute, a superb chip, chase and collect by Lwazi Mvovo saw the fullback score behind the posts to give his team some breathing space as the clock marched on.

A Steyn penalty sealed the Lions’ fate and the game finished 25-12 to give the men from Durban a 13-point win to open up the gap at the top of the South African conference to nine points, a cushion of two points in the overall log.

Centre Sithole walked away with the man-of-the-match award after some sterling work in defence and looks to have prolonged his run in the team for a little longer.

In the only other Super Rugby game played in the country, the Cheetahs and Crusaders gave the Bloemfontein crowd a spectacle of running rugby with the seven-time champions eventually winning the high scoring affair 52-31.

The Cheetahs were hoping to open up a gap between themselves and the Stormers at the bottom of the table and seemed to adopt the New Zealand approach of playing the game, which is to run everything, from anywhere, whenever possible.

That approach worked as they drew first blood and ended the game with four tries, securing the bonus point. But, they did not have an answer for Nemani Nadolo.

The 125 kg giant Fijian winger scored a hat-trick of tries and Naka Drotske’s men did not have an answer for him.

The Bloemfontein faithful were given a treat in the 53rd minute when 23-year-old former Shimlas flanker Teboho Mohoje announced himself to the crowd in his second Super Rugby game with a brilliantly, well taken try.

That try gave the Cheetahs some confidence which saw them go ahead momentarily, but the Crusaders kicked up a gear and showed why they have won the competition seven times.

Willie le Roux’s 58th-minute try put the Cheetahs 31-26 ahead but the Crusaders doubled their tally in the last 20 minutes to take home two wins from two matches here.

Lions vs Sharks

Lions - 12: Penalties - Marnitz Boshoff (3)

Sharks - 25: Try - Lwazi Mvovo; Conversion - Frans Steyn; Penalties - Fred Zeilinga (2), Steyn (4)

Cheetahs vs Crusaders

Cheetahs - 31: Tries - Cornall Hendricks, Sarel Pretorius, Tebogo Mohoje, Willie le Roux; Conversions - Elgar Watts (4); Penalty - Watts

Crusaders - 52: Tries - Israel Dagg, Nemani Nadolo (3), Tom Taylor, Colin Slade; Conversions - Slade (4), Tyler Bleyendaal; Penalties - Slade (4)

Friday Results

Highlanders 27 Bulls 20

Reds 20 Brumbies 23

Saturday Results

Chiefs 22 Rebels 16

Force 28 Waratahs 16.

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