DURBAN - The Sharks bagged another five Currie Cup points on Friday night when they laboured to an unimpressive 28-12 win over a Pumas side that for 50 minutes of the game threatened an upset at Kings Park.
The visitors from Nelspruit led 12-7 at half time after a first half of rugby that can only be described as lamentable, and a dreadful advertisement for the ailing Currie Cup. The misty rain could only be blamed for some of the plethora of mistakes from both sides, and the abject poor play could mostly be ascribed to player error.
The Sharks alone made eight handling errors in the first half, together with five penalties against them, and that to some degree explains their inability to put together meaningful passages of play.
It took 20 minutes of muddled play before the Sharks opening the scoring through a planned move off a ruck near the Pumas line that had centre Jeremy Ward running onto a grubber from flyhalf Robert du Preez for a neat try.
Just two minutes into the game the Sharks had suffered a setback when a dazed Lwazi Mvovo had to leave the field, facilitating a quick return to action for Curwin Bosch, who had been benched for this game after a suspect defensive display against the Cheetahs the week before, with Aphelele Fassi moving to the wing to accommodate Bosch at fullback. Bosch and Fassi looked lively when they got the ball, but that happened too seldom.
As the first half wore on, the Pumas forwards seemed to be gaining an ascendancy, using the driving maul to good effect, and it was not a surprise when they hit the Sharks with a double whammy as the half-time break beckoned.
First wing Ruwellyn Isbell found space on the blind side of a ruck for a try in the corner and then almost from the kick-off monster lock Le Roux Roets muscled over after a barnstorming charge.
FULL TIME:— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) September 7, 2018
Some moments of brilliance for both sides in the wet here at JONSSON KINGS PARK, but in the end the @cellc Sharks overpowered the iCollege Pumas to secure the victory. #SHAvPUM #OurSharksForever #WhereLegendsRise pic.twitter.com/kQPmeBTWCK
As the teams came out for the second half the drizzle intensified but, ironically, the rugby got slightly better, particularly for the Sharks. After 12 minutes they cracked the Pumas defence when they put together their first decent series of phases of the game, with substitute centre Johan Deysel going over unmarked under the crossbar. The conversion put the Sharks 14-12 in front.
Fassi and Bosch then scored tries in quick succession to put the Sharks into an unassailable lead at 28-12, with Fassi showing good hands to catch a long and high pass. That purple patch for the Sharks in a 15-minute period in the middle of the half was it as far as the scoring was concerned, and the game puttered out into the drab and eminently forgettable affair that it ultimately was.
Sharks scorers: Tries: Jeremy Ward, Johan Deysel, Aphelele Fassi, Curwin Bosch. Conversions: Robert du Preez (4). Pumas scorers: Tries: Ruwellyn Isbell, Le Roux Roets. Conversion: Chris Smith.