Sharks seal convincing win over Griquas in Kimberley
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DURBAN – It was convincing in the end for the Sharks in Kimberley but boy did they make heavy weather at times of their 30-16 defeat of Griquas in a never-dull Currie Cup opening round match on Saturday.
The Durbanites banked a full-house of log points in their four-tries-to-two victory and coach Sean Everitt will be pleased with the character shown by a team shorn of nine first-choice players on duty with the Boks, but not with the way his team kept shooting themselves in the foot, especially in the first half.
Despite all their pre-match intentions of starting well by limiting mistakes and building a decent lead, the opening quarter was mostly a forgettable one for the Sharks. In that time they were penalised three times in the set scrums; there was a crooked lineout delivery; spilled passes and — worryingly — uncertainty under the high ball.
On 20 minutes, captain Phepsi Buthelezi finished off a good team try with a strong acceleration to the line, and he would have hoped that would end an opening period of error-strewn uncertainty from his team.
That did not happen, and Griquas finished the half strongly, with the Sharks fortunate when TMO intervention resulted in a maul try by Janco Uys being disallowed because of obstruction.
Earlier, flyhalf George Whitehead had kicked two penalties while his opposite number, Boeta Chamberlain, had nailed a fifth-minute dropkick.
That gave the Sharks a tenuous 10-6 half-time lead, and there would have been a tense discussion in their change room.
They would have spoken about scoring first in the second half, and they did so after three minutes when Chamberlain landed a penalty awarded and that was compounded five minutes later when Jeremy Ward grounded a neat nudge into the in-goal area by Werner Kok, who made that try out of virtually nothing.
And two minutes later the Sharks seemed to be over the hill and far away when lanky Hyron Andrews scampered home after lovely interplay between half of his team after a maul had been turned over.
It was 25-6 with about half an hour to go but Griquas never go away and they immediately struck back with an opportunist try by wing Eduan Keyter.
And there was a possible turning point as the game hit the three-quarter mark when replacement Sharks flank Mpilo Gumede was yellow-carded for taking out a Griquas lineout forward in the air, but that advantage was undone when Gumede’s opposite number, Hanru Sirgel, was carded for a blatant ruck infringement.
The Sharks could have put the game away when they had an advancing scrum near the Griquas line only for blindside wing Anthony Volmink to creep up into an offside position, picked up referee Rasta Rasivhenge, and the clearing penalty kick put the Sharks on the defence deep in their 22 for a long period.
And Griquas did indeed score next when a quickly taken lineout ultimately saw each both of their wings have sprints down their touchlines before Daniel Kasende went over.
But the Sharks finished it off nicely when substitute hooker Kerron van Vuuren scored off the back of a maul, as he does almost every time he plays.
Griquas: Tries: Eduan Keyter, Daniel Kasende Penalties: George Whitehead (2)
Sharks: Tries: Phepsi Buthelezi, Jeremy Ward, Hyron Andrews, Kerron van Vuuren. Conversions: Boeta Chamberlain (2). Drop Goal: Chamberlain. Penalty: Chamberlain