Thrilling win takes Sharks to top of log

2013-08-24 00:00

THE Sharks produced a spirited second-half showing to upset the Free State Cheetahs 18-15 in a tense Currie Cup match in Bloemfontein last night.

This critical away victory has taken the Sharks to the top of the log overnight and was fashioned by a strong second-half defensive effort.

The Sharks not only dominated territory after the break, scoring the only try of the second-half, but their improved defence forced the Free Staters to play most of their rugby behind the gainline.

The Sharks had trailed 15-13 at half-time but centre Louis Ludik, following a sniping break by replacement scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, scored the match-winning try after 65 minutes.

The Sharks played for territory in their second half. Their tactical kicking was not always accurate. However, they did succeed in pinning Free State down in their own half for long periods.

The first half fluctuated as the Sharks started and ended strongly but were dominated in the middle stages.

Sharks prop Dale Chadwick was unfortunate to have a try disallowed because of accidental offside after eight minutes. Flyhalf Fred Zeilinga, with an early penalty and a neat drop goal, did give them a 6-3 lead after 12 minutes. The Free Staters then hit back, taking advantage of several unforced Sharks’ errors to score tries by flank Lappies Labuschagne and wing Raymond Rhule.

The Cheetahs led 15-6 midway through the half and the Sharks, on their heels on defence and slow off the line, appeared vulnerable.

But with flank Jean Deysel leading the way, the Sharks attacked strongly for the last 10 minutes of the half, setting up a series of driving lineouts from penalties which finally resulted in Free State captain Boom Prinsloo being yellow-carded.

Deysel, taking a quick tap penalty, scored on the half-time hooter, and the Sharks were back in the game at the break (15-13).

The Sharks held sway for most of the second half and, crucially, the backs quickly closed down the Cheetahs when their dangerous backs attempted to move the ball. And that proved decisive in a close contest.

Man-of-the-match Deysel paid tribute to his team-mates at the final whistle, saying “We showed guts in defence at the end of the game.”


Free State (15): Tries: Lappies Labuschagne and Raymond Rhule. Conversion: Riaan Smit. Penalty: Smit. Sharks (18): Tries: Jean Deysel, Louis Ludik. Conversion: Fred Zeilinga. Penalty: Fred Zeilinga. Drop: Zeilinga.

Today’s games: Griquas vs WP 3 pm; Bulls vs Lions, 5.05 pm.

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