Currie Cup

Wobbly Sharks manage to fend off Currie Cup nemesis Griquas by a whisker

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Chris Hollis on the attack for Griquas. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)
Chris Hollis on the attack for Griquas. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)

The Sharks barely managed to avoid slipping on the banana skin that is Griquas, also surviving a red card shown to flanker OJ Noa to boot, in claiming a 24-23 win in their opening Currie Cup match of 2022.

That in itself represents a triumph for Etienne Fynn's vintage given that the Peacock Blues have been their nemesis in the domestic competition over the past three years, twice winning comfortably at King's Park.

In all honesty, a more settled and experienced Griquas team might've actually sprung a surprise again yet that's not quite the case this season as new head coach Pieter Bergh settles in with a whole host of new, inexperienced players.

They would've sneaked it had their gifted pivot, 21-year-old Zander du Plessis, not found the swirling Durban wind hassling in missing no less than three kicks at goal.

Whether it would've been deserved is an interesting debate.

In wet conditions, both teams lacked rhythm and were guilty of some really poor handling on attack, a situation compounded by an inability to keep their discipline at the breakdowns.

The first half in particular was woefully attritional, the Sharks only managing to get themselves ahead following a moment of brilliance from flyhalf Jordan Chait.

Granted momentum from a 28th minute turnover from a 22m drop-out, the former Maties star - back from a productive loan spell with Israeli side Tel Aviv Heat - neatly attacked the yawning gap in front of him and then freed up halfback partner Cameron Wright to score.

The majority of the last 40 followed a similar complexion, which briefly looked set to change when Sharks hooker Dan Jooste smartly exploited some sleepy Griquas defending from an attacking maul.

That gave off the illusion of a comfortable 18-6 advantage.

Yet, unable to string enough meaningful phases together, the hosts conceded ground to their opponents, who steadily found some attacking shape with Du Plessis and Sharks loanee Rynhardt Jonker at its heart.

Noa's marching orders in the 63rd minute for a hit that made contact to replacement tighthead Justin Forwood's head brought Griquas back into the frame as substitute flanker Michael Amiras rounded off the attacking maul from the resultant penalty.

But the men from Kimberley's own struggles with discipline meant the Sharks managed to generally keep play in the right areas of the field, culminating in Sanele Nohamba's two fine penalty goals.

That gave them enough of a buffer to survive Griquas scoring in the last seconds through replacement midfielder Sango Xamlashe after Jonker's initiative from a quick-tap. 

Point scorers:

Sharks - 24 (10)

Tries: Cameron Wright, Dan Jooste

Conversion: Jordan Chait

Penalties: Sanele Nohamba (2), Chait, Murray Koster

Griquas - 23 (6)

Try: Michael Amiras, Sango Xamlashe

Conversions: Zander du Plessis (2)

Penalties: Du Plessis (3)

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