Currie Cup

Sharks awake from Christmas slumber to slay Griquas

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Curwin Bosch. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
Curwin Bosch. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

The Sharks awoke from their Christmas slumber to start the new year with a resounding if somewhat flawed 47-19 victory over Griquas at King's Park on Saturday.

By all accounts the Durbanites had the "luck" of facing the Currie Cup's punching bag, but the value of this bonus point win is vividly illustrated by the fact that they're suddenly back in contention for a home semifinal despite comprehensive losses - 12-27 to the Lions and 10-37 to the Cheetahs - in their previous two encounters.

There were brief initial signs of a continued hangover when stalwart Griquas winger Enver Brandt pounced on a poor attacking pass to Sharks skipper Lukhanyo Am, who dove over as early as the first minute.

While it became evident quickly thereafter that the home pack would have too much ammunition for the limited visitors, it took a while for the Sharks to find some semblance of coherent execution.

A neat example was the build-up to hooker Fez Mbatha's try, where returning fullback Aphelele Fassi totally overran a dummy run that threw off scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse from completing a potential scoring chance to wing Yaw Penxe.

But they kept their heads well enough to win a penalty moments later, from where Mbatha - who delivered a creditable, bustling performance - orchestrated a maul well. 

The Sharks continued to dominate though they were held scoreless for most of the half as their own poor ball protection and some spirited if opportunistic rucking by the Peacock Blues.

The turning point came in the 30th minute, when flyhalf Curwin Bosch decided to vary a few phases of recycled possession by launching a fine cross-kick to wing Werner Kok, who leapt past Griqua fullback James Verity-Amm to dot down.

Four minutes later, Hendrikse's quick tap on his own 22 and kick ahead seemed to undermine the Sharks' attacking intent as all visiting flyhalf Tinus de Beer had to do was clear to touch.

Yet the pivot, who was jittery throughout, somehow spilled the ball while diving, gifting possession to Penxe, who bumped off a defender to score.

After a high tackle saved De Beer's bacon following another botched clean-up, the Sharks continued to apply pressure, setting up a maul that eventually saw the ball travel along the line for Bosch to launch a deft chip that was superbly rounded off by Am, who somehow beat the hapless De Beer to the ball.

Buoyed by a 26-7 lead at half-time, the Sharks didn't struggle to keep up the tempo, even if there was still an element of looseness to their game.  

No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe delivered one of the undoubted highlights of the hosts' attacking play on the day, brilliantly embarking on a run on the right from a turnover before seamlessly cutting back left to scythe through the Griquas defence.

He was admittedly helped by Am obstructing a would-be tackler, but the TMO ruled the try was legitimate.

An efficient maul allowed replacement Dylan Richardson to burst over, allowing the Sharks to truly gallop out of sight before Griquas flanker Gideon van der Merwe scored the first of two consolation tries.

Summing up the visitors day was the try to Fassi, who easily pounced on a cross-kick in Griquas' own 22.

It bordered on comical.

Scorers:

Sharks - (26) 47

Tries: Fez Mbatha, Werner Kok, Yaw Penxe, Lukhanyo Am, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Dylan Richardson, Aphelele Fassi

Conversions: Curwin Bosch (6)

Griquas - (7) 19

Tries: Gideon van der Merwe (2), Enver Brandt

Conversion: Tinus de Beer, Ashlon Davids

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Fixtures
Sat 23 Jan 21 14:00 PM (SAST)
Vodacom Bulls
Xerox Lions
Loftus Versfeld
Sat 23 Jan 21 16:30 PM (SAST)
DHL Western Province
Cell C Sharks
Cape Town
Sat 30 Jan 21 14:00 PM (SAST)
TBC
TBC
TBC
Results
Sun 10 Jan 21
Phakisa Pumas 44
Vodacom Bulls 14
Sat 09 Jan 21
Tafel Lager Griquas 18
Toyota Cheetahs 22
Sat 09 Jan 21
DHL Western Province 0
Cell C Sharks 0
Logs
Team
P
W
PTS
1. Vodacom Bulls
12
8
39
2. DHL Western Province
12
7
37
3. Cell C Sharks
12
7
35
4. Xerox Lions
12
6
34