Take that!

2008-08-08 00:00

The Sharks powered to the top of the log here last night with a comprehensive 32-10 win over Western Province that will see Johann Muller’s men going into their three week break with a lot to be pleased about.

The Durbanites, who led 8-3 at the break, scored four tries to one to grab five log points, and with the Bulls being shocked by the Lions on the same night, this meant that the Sharks leapfrogged both the Bulls and the Cheetahs into top position on the table, where they lead the champion Cheetahs by one point.

The Sharks had to survive a frenetic onslaught from WP to win this match, particularly in the opening half, but they were helped by the fact that they were always ahead on the scoreboard after a try from hooker Skipper Badenhorst after less than two minutes. WP had contested a lineout near their own line, but the tap had found Albert van den Berg bursting through, and the experienced Springbok put Badenhorst in for the try.

WP, with young 19-year-old newcomer Nick Kotzer excelling and showing that here is an undoubted star of the future, then did a lot of attacking, but at times they gave the impression they were rushing things too much. Still, they did threaten on several occasions, often with just the final pass failing to go to hand, while on one occasion referee Jonathan Kaplan called them back for a forward pass when they looked to have come close to scoring.

The Sharks defence needs to be lauded for resisting WP’s onslaught during this period, and instead of the hosts coming back to level the scores, it was Ruan Pienaar, turning in a calm performance in his first appearance back in his old scrumhalf jersey for some time, who kicked a penalty to put more daylight between the two teams on the scoreboard.

WP were sorely missing Willem de Waal, who played such a big part for them in the first round game, and retreaded flyhalf Joe Pietersen missed with a couple of penalty attempts that may have made a difference to the psyche of the home team.

That said, however, Pietersen did appear to present his team with greater attacking options, and the Sharks frequently had to scramble as WP tried to run the ball from everywhere. This is a high risk and high reward approach, and on the night it turned out to be high reward, as the Sharks punished the hosts mistakes to keep the scoreboard moving.

Stefan Terblanche was up to round off soon after half-time after WP were turned over inside the Sharks half after a long period of attacking, and while Koster capped his great performance with WP’s solitary try to draw the deficit back to five points, the Sharks always looked to have a little bit in hand, with the fetcher loose-forwards coming more into their own in the second half.

This proved to be the case as French international first slotted a drop-goal and then went over for a try after the Sharks had camped themselves in an attacking position to wrap up the game.

Van den Berg, who was prominent in all aspects of the game throughout the match, rounded off a good performance with the fourth bonus point try to complete a great night for the Sharks.

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