Sharks’ second stringers step up in win over Griquas
DURBAN – Far more important than the positive result for the Sharks in this preparation encounter was the impressive performance of their second-stringers, who played some thrilling rugby against a settled Griquas outfit.
The Sharks had 16 regular players unavailable for this match — they are in a conditioning squad after having done heavy duty in the recently completed Currie Cup—while Griquas were at full strength and hungry for a win after they had lost every one of their Currie Cup games.
They were very unlucky in a number of their narrow losses last year, including a defeat to the Sharks that was down to a last-minute penalty goal by Curwin Bosch.
And in the first half Scott Mathie’s men from Kimberley looked the better side, leading 10-0 after 33 minutes, but the home side found their rhythm and their attacking intent began to pay off from early in the second half, and some scintillating tries were scored.
Especially pleasing for Sharks coach Sean Everitt would have been the impact made by his youthful bench in the second half — substitute front-rankers Ntuthuka Mchunu and Fez Mbatha got stuck in and made a difference, and newcomer Jordan Chait (flyhalf) had a happy debut when he came on for Manie Libbok.
The latter was getting a chance at flyhalf for the rested Curwin Bosch and reveled in his preferred position after he played fullback in the Currie Cup for the Sharks. Libbok proved he can be a slippery customer indeed.
The Sharks were well captained by Jeremy Ward, who had one of his best games in a Sharks jersey. His distribution was vastly improved and he linked well with the support.
Werner Kok, playing on the right wing, exhibited some lovely skills learned from his Sevens trade.
There was also a reassuring return to form for fullback Aphelele Fassi.
In the Sharks’ pack, JJ van der Mecht continued the strong form he showed late in the Currie Cup and on the blindside flank, Thembelani Bholi was a strong physical presence, while Khwezi Mona did well on his conversion to loosehead prop.
No 8 Phepsi Buthelezi had a powerful game after having had limited opportunities in the Currie Cup.
The Sharks’ first try was scored by Anthony Volmink, who missed the Currie Cup last year because of a shoulder injury after having been signed from Griquas and that was the first of 35 unanswered points. for the Sharks.
Sharks: (7) 35 - Tries: Anthony Volmink, penalty try, Aphelele Fassi, Thaakir Abrahams, Jordan Chait. Conversions: Manie Libbok (2), Jordan Chait (2)
Griquas: (10) 10 - Try: Gideon van der Merwe. Conversions: George Whitehead. Penalties: Whitehead.