United Rugby Championship

Sharks earn fourth straight bonus-point win after Zebre workout

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Henco Venter. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)
Henco Venter. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)
  • The Sharks were made to sweat early on but eventually got a bonus-point victory over Italians Zebre at Kings Park on Saturday.
  • The blight on the performance came when star fullback Aphelele Fassi went off injured in the first half.
  • The win was the Sharks’ fourth straight bonus-point win of the United Rugby Championship.


Much like the against the Scarlets last week, the Sharks were made to sweat for an hour before eventually putting Zebre away 38-6 in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday.

The expectant Kings Park faithful wanted them to show their bravura right off the bat but the Italians, perhaps buoyed by their national team beating Wales moments earlier, refused to wilt early on.

The Sharks laboured in the first half, despite flanker Henco Venter putting them a try to the good within the first ten minutes.

AS IT HAPPENED | Sharks v Zebre

When Venter crashed over the line, you might have thought the half would be a procession but the visitors didn’t allow the hosts to get into autopilot.

The Sharks needed a Curwin Bosch penalty after that score to maintain distance with Zebre after flyhalf Antonio Rizzi’s penalties kept the Italians in tow.

The major blight of the half was star fullback Aphelele Fassi, who had a disallowed try, hobbling off with an injury moments before the break.

Boeta Chamberlain replaced Fassi, initially at fullback, while Bosch retained the pivot levers.

They had also lost Springbok Makazole Mapimpi and Ox Nche before kick-off. Yaw Penxe and Ntuthuko Mchunu replaced them in the starting XV.

The Sharks flexed some muscle in the second half and got onto the scoreboard twice within 20 minutes of the restart.

First, Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi bludgeoned himself over the Zebre try line.

Then, after some imperfect sequences on attack and a disallowed Grant Williams try, prop Khutha Mchunu scored a rare try, his first in the URC.

Williams got his try eventually, when he rounded off a more fluid move on the hour, getting an exquisite assist pass from wing Werner Kok.

It didn’t help that Zebre lost two players in the second half to yellow cards, one almost right after the other returned from the bin, as the Sharks cashed in.

Bosch, who was flawless with the boot, added the fifth try of the evening and his second in two consecutive matches after touching down against Llanelli last week.

The Sharks also made sure Zebre remained scoreless in the second half.

Scorers

Sharks - (10) 38

Tries: Henco Venter, Bongi Mbonambi, Khutha Mchunu, Grant Williams, Curwin Bosch

Conversions: Bosch (5)

Penalty: Bosch

Zebre - (6) 6

Penalties: Antonio Rizzi (2)

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