Free-scoring Sharks hammer Griquas as semi-final picture becomes clearer
DURBAN – The Sharks may live to regret gifting Griquas a flurry of points at the end of their Currie Cup match at Kings Park but now they will celebrate a return to form plus a full-house of log points that takes them well into semi-final territory.
The Sharks scored seven tries to three in their 47-19 win, which halted a depressing two-match losing streak, and now with just one round of the competition to go, points differentials may prove vital in determining how the top four finishers stack up.
The Bulls are pretty much home dry in terms of topping the log, so will have one of the home semi-final spots, but the Lions, Sharks and Western Province have little between them going into a high-pressure final weekend.
The latter team snuck the points in Bloemfontein and now they host the Sharks in a massive game at Newlands — just two separate the Sharks and Province. The Sharks are level with the Lions on 33 points but remain in fourth place.
Against Griquas, the Sharks had been making good ground in improving their points average until they gifted 14 easy points to their visitors in the final quarter, although to be to fair Scott Mathies’ men, they never gave up trying, even when the Sharks were in full cruise control.
Also, at the very beginning of the game, the Sharks were charitable in the extreme when a reckless pass by Curwin Bosch — one that will have him blushing in the review on Monday — gave Griquas a try just 38 seconds into the match. The week before, against the Cheetahs, the Sharks had done exactly the same.
But this time they did not sink without trace, and coach Sean Everitt got the response he had asked for his players after the heavy losses to the Lions and Cheetahs.
The forwards were much better, with young JJ van der Mescht in the second row stepping up and new hooker Fez Mbatha having an industrious afternoon. No 8 Sikhumbuzo Nothse played probably his best game since he was in such fine form pre-lockdown, in Super Rugby.
Bosch, after that early clanger, also showed his class and his nifty boot made tries for his fellow backs, be it a pin-point cross-kick, a grubber through the defence, or a chip over the top.
There was once more impressive play by winger Yaw Penxe, who has been consistently outstanding since joining the Sharks from the defunct Kings, and fellow wing Werner Kok showed some good touches.
It was reassuring, also, to see youngster Aphelele Fassi spectacularly pluck a high ball out of the air to score a lovely try in his first start since his comeback from that shoulder injury.
Sharks 47 – Tries: Fez Mbatha, Werner Kok, Yaw Penxe, Lukhanyo Am, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Dylan Richardson, Aphelele Fassi. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (6)
Griquas 19 – Tries: Enver Brandt, Gideon van der Merwe (2). Conversion: Tinus de Beer (2).