Kimberley – The Sharks opened their Currie Cup campaign with a 31-24 win over Griquas 31-24 in their match at GWK Park in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.
Griquas drew first blood as early as the fourth minute through a penalty from fullback Nico Scheepers.
The Peacock Blues lost centre Jonathan Francke in the seventh minute after referee Craig Joubert red carded him for a dangerous tip tackle on a Sharks player.
Sharks flyhalf Fred Zeilinga could not capitalise on the resulting penalty, but the hosts were still left a man short for 72 minutes.
Zeilinga drew the scores level with a penalty in the 18th minute after Griquas could only manage to break their stride illegally. Zeilinga gave the Sharks the lead for the first time shortly after with another penalty to make the score 6-3 in favour of the visitors.
The Sharks scored the first try of the afternoon on the half hour mark. Zeilinga dotted down after a frenetic passage of play from the visitors, but missed the conversion for an 11-3 lead.
Shortly before half-time, Sharks centre Paul Jordaan sniped through the Griquas defence to score a try, and Zeilinga converted.
Sharks prop Thomas du Toit was yellow carded for repeated infringements on the visitors goal line early in the second half.
Zeilinga kicked a penalty after the hosts again were pinned in the scrum.
Griquas flanker Marnus Schoeman scored the first try for the hosts, and Scheepers converted.
The Sharks replied with centre S'bura Sithole crossing the whitewash and Zelinga again was successful with the conversion.
Griquas scored again as eighthman Carel Greeff grabbed a try as time was running out.
Griquas winger Ederies Arendse also scored to bring the hosts within four points, but Zeilinga's kicking sealed the victory with another penalty.
Points scorers: Sharks 31 (18): Tries: Fred Zeilinga, Paul Jordaan, S'bura Sithole. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2). Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (4).
Griquas 24 (3): Tries: Marnus Schoeman, Carel Greeff, Ederies Arendse. Conversions: Nico Scheepers (3). Penalty: Nico Scheepers.– Sapa