An improved second half performance by the Sharks helped the side to narrowly defeat the Griquas by 24-23. It also gave their new Currie Cup coach Etienne Fynn a winning start in an error-prone match in Durban on Wednesday night.
Fynn replaced Sean Everitt as the team’s Currie Cup coach, while Everitt now only focuses on leading the Sharks in the United Rugby Championship.
The home team scored two tries, while the visitors also crossed the whitewash twice in Durban, where the Sharks led 10-6 at half time.
Scrumhalf Cameron Wright and Dan Jooste scored the tries for the Sharks, as Michael Amiras and Sango Xamlashe were on the scoresheet for Griquas.
The game couldn’t gain momentum for most of the first half, thanks to several errors from both teams.
The two sides finished the first stanza with four handling errors apiece and a red card for the Sharks’ OJ Noa on his Currie Cup debut.
The match started with the Griquas attacking very well. They were quite impressive on lineouts as well.
However, they missed two good chances of building scoreboard pressure, as young flyhalf Zander du Plessis missed two penalties inside the opening 11 minutes.
Sharks flyhalf Jordan Chait had a chance to break the deadlock in the 18th minute, but the former Varsity Cup star sent his penalty kick wide.
Three minutes later, Chait got an opportunity to redeem himself and scored to make it 3-0 in favour of the hosts.
The first try of the match came at 28 minutes, as Wright followed a brilliant run by Chait, who sliced between several Griquas players.
After missing two penalties earlier on, du Plessis scored two penalties at 32 and 40 minutes to keep the score at 10-6 at half time.
The Sharks had a strong start after the break, as Jooste scored from a maul in the 42nd minute and took the score to 15-6. Replacement Murray Koster missed his first kick to the poles after he took on the kicking duties.
In his second attempt, Koster did score a penalty at 52 minutes to put the Sharks in a driving seat as they led 18-6.
Sharks 24-23 Griquas
Lions 9-50 Pumas
The Griquas almost came back into the game after Noa was sent off for a dangerous tackle and the visitors responded with a quick try by Amiras.
Du Plessis’ conversion took the score to 18-13 but the Sharks replacement scrumhalf scored two crucial penalties inside the last 10 minutes as the Durbanites fought to remain in the lead.
Xamlashe’s 80th minute try and a conversion by Du Plessis saw the men from Kimberly getting just a losing bonus-point from the clash.