The Sharks’ second-half performance made sure they secure a hard-fought 28-12 win over the Pumas at Kings Park in Durban on Friday.
The Sharks outscored the Pumas four tries to two.
The hosts wasted a lot of try-scoring opportunities as handling errors overshadowed their first first half performance.
However, the Sharks eventually turned up the heat in the second half by scoring three tries adding to their single try in the first stanza.
It was a nervy start for the Pumas. From the kick-off, Sharks kept the visitors inside their own 22. Fortunately for the Pumas, Stefan Ungerer managed to clear the line and got the side out if the danger zone.
Curwin Bosch made an early appearance following the head collision between Sharks wing Lwazi Mvovo and Pumas prop Marné Coetzee. The wing failed his HIA and did not return to the field.
The match was really static as both teams failed to build momentum in the first quarter. For the Sharks the only highlight was a line break by Aphelele Fassi. While the Pumas saw a try-scoring opportunity halted courtesy of woeful line-out exercution.
The Sharks finally broke the deadlock on the 21st minute. Robert du Preez showed great vision as his grubber kick was neatly collected by Jeremy Ward, who dived over the chalk for the five-pointer. Robert du Preez added the extras for the 7-0 lead.
Sharks almost double their lead, but a knock-on by Juan Schoeman on the try-line nullified all the progress – the theme of the first half.
In a space of three minutes, the Pumas silenced small Kings Park crowd with two successive tries.
The Pumas produced a great passage of play which made sure they got into the Sharks’ 22. A sneaky pop pass from scrumhalf Ungerer to Ruwellyn Isbel handed the Pumas their first five-pointer.
The scrumhalf was again instrumental in the second score. Ungerer’s kick was neatly collected by Trompie Pretorius, and after two phases lock Le Roux Roets powered his way over the line. This time, Christopher Smith slot over the extras for the 12-7 lead at the break.
The Sharks returned to the field with loads of vigour. And whether it was coach Robert Du Preez Snr’s half-time talk or Jimmy Stonehouse’s decision to replace Stefan Ungerer, the Sharks took full control of the second half.
They retain the lead thanks to great interplay between Ward, Schoeman and Deysel, who burst over the line. R Du Preez added the extra two points for the 14-12 lead.
Soon 14-12 was 28-12 courtesy of two successive tries by fullback Fassi and Bosch respectively.
The Pumas tried to build mometum in the closing minutes of the match, however, the Sharks’ defence was just to good as they kept the Pumas at bay for the victory.
The results put the Sharks on top of the Currie Cup log, while the Pumas’ changes of making the play-off phase are deteriorating.
Man of the match: It was truly a difficult task. There were some highlights but it was far and few between. For the Sharks Hyron Andrews, Gideon Koegelenberg and Daniel du Preez were some of the heroes. However, our nod goes to Stefan Ungerer, the scrumhalf’s box kicks proved to be vital and his exit in the 50th minute was a shock decision by Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse.
Tries: Ward, Deysel, Fassi, Bosch
Cons: R Du Preez 4
Tries: Isbel, Roetz
Con: C. Smith
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle (captain), 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Khutha Mchunu, 18 Andrew Evans, 19 Wian Vosloo, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Johan Deysel, 22 Curwin Bosch.
Pumas: 15 Gerrit Smith; 14 Niel Maritz, 13 Ryan Nell, 12 Hennie Skorbinski, 11 Ruwellyn Isbel; 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Stefan Ungerer; 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marné Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel,18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Francois Kleynhans, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Jeandré Rudolph, 22 Trompie Pretorius
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni