Sharks (19) 26
Blues (0) 7
At the final whistle at Jonnsons Kings Park, Sharks fans were left cheering by a last-minute try that earned their team a winning bonus point but the truth is that with ten minutes to go they were on the edge of their seats.
Their team had beat the Blues with an excellent first half display had petered out into a desultory second half of squandered opportunities and poor option-taking which slowly but surely brought the visitors back into the game and the last quarter of the game was played out deep in Sharks territory.
One is loath to utter the old cliche of a game of two halves but how else do you describe this curious match? One in which the Sharks scored 19 points in the first half (and it could well have been 40 had they not been so wasteful), only to surrender the initiative to the Blues for the next 39 minutes, until Curwin Bosch’s 80m interception from close to his line restored the Sharks three-try advantage and the bonus point.
Maybe it was the stop-start nature of the game that interrupted the Sharks’ momentum. There seem to be infernal TMO interruptions every five minutes and in fact one TMO referral took five seconds short of five minutes and then the referee somehow made the wrong call, ruling that Blues flank Dalton Papalii’s head-lock on Coenie Oosthuizen at a ruck warranted only a penalty when it had red card written all over it.
There was another long interruption on the half hour mark after a serious injury to Sharks wing Sbu Nkosi being carried off. The Springbok has had an unfortunate run of luck considering the two months he missed at the height of the 2018 season after a suffering foot injury not long after starring in the series against England.
Curwin Bosch came on for Nkosi and Aphelele Fassi moved from fullack to wing.
The Sharks started the match in the same sensational fashion that they finished the week before against the Sunwolves.Their first try was exceptional, and it came from turnover ball from a botched Blues lineout in the Sharks ’half. The ball was worked out wide and a grubber through the defence by Lukhanyo Am saw Makazole Mapimpi gather and then pass inside to Fassi for a super score.
The Sharks were declining kicking penalties in favour of the kick to the corner and they were rewarded with what is now becoming a regulation try off the back of the lineout for Akker van der Merwe, who in the 15th minute added to the two tries he scored against the Sunwolves.
Not long after there was further reward for the Sharks when unremitting pressure on the Blues line gave Robert du Preez the space to dummy a pass to his midfield and then surge over under the crossbar.
The Blues were the first to score in the second half following some 20 minutes of butchered Sharks opportunities and one let-off for the Sharks when a Blues try was disallowed because Jacques Vermeulen was held back after a set scrum.
It was Tanielu Tele that put the Blues on the scoreboard for the first time and the try not only put the visitors back in the game but meant the Sharks had to score another try t regain the bonus point that seemed so assured in the first half.
They didn’t look like getting it util that late burst from Bosch.
Sharks: Tries by Aphelele Fassi, Akker van der Merwe, Robert du Preez, Curwin Bosch. Conversions: Du Preez (3)
Blues: Try Tanielu Teleá. Conversion: Otere Black