NELSPRUIT – The Pumas beat the Sharks 27-20 in Nelspruit on Saturday and while fans of the Durban team will be indignant that their team failed, this was one of those games where the underdog team could not be denied.
And this was personified by home coach Jimmy Stonehouse bursting into tears at the final whistle, his team’s three-match losing sequence having been ended. Big Jimmy, the power-lifting champion with the bulging biceps, could not stem his tears.
And good on him. His team had weathered the best the Sharks could deliver in the first half and then overturned an eight-point half-time deficit to comfortably prevail in the end.
The Sharks had gone into the game big on “effort and growth”, and it would be churlish to fault them on their effort, as this just happened to be game where the desperate home team refused to go away and eventually wore down the visitors.
An interesting facet of the game was the unfortunate yellow carding of first Willie Engelbrecht of the Pumas and then Craig Burden of the Sharks, both for shoulder charges at ruck time. When those players were unfairly off the field, the opposition team scored.
The officials will go back and look at their calls and surely will agree that rguby is not tiddlywinks. For goodness sakes!
The Sharks first scored when wing Lwazi Mvovo finished off a good team effort in the 12th minute. His fellow wing, Kobus van Wyk, then finished for his side’s second, while Curwin Bosch added a third after he outpaced the defence after a break down the blindside of a ruck.
Pumas flyhalf Chris Smith kicked three penalties to keep the Pumas in the contest, and then just a minute after the break the Pumas and Sharks old boy Francois Kleinhans scored an intercept try and Smith nailed a simple conversion to reduce the deficit to a single point.
The Pumas were growing in confidence and when they kicked a penalty to the corner they were rewarded when their replacement hooker, Simon Westraadt, smashed over.
Pumas – Tries: Francois Kleinhans, Simon Westraadt. Conversion: Chris Smith. Penalties: Smith (5).
Sharks – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, Kobus van Wyk, Curwin Bosch. Conversion: Bosch. Penalty: Bosch.