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Sharks XV remain on top


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Vodacom Cup on 14 Mar 2011 at 06:37
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , ,

The Sharks XV hardly broke a sweat in notching up their third successive bonus-point victory in the 2011 Vodacom Cup on Saturday. In beating the Valke by 67 points to 26 in Margate, Sean Everitt’s side ran in no fewer than 11 tries and are comfortably ahead of all rival on the South Section log, with 15 points from three games.

The game East Rand side were outclassed pretty much from the start and with the XV running in five tries in the first half alone, there was only ever going to be one winner. 20-year-old centre Piet Lindeque, playing out of position on the right wing, opened the scoring on sevens minutes, one of two tries on the day that were just the sort of pick-me-up needed after his shock exclusion from the SA Under-20 side to tour Argentina. Goal kicking, on a day when the wind blustered and swirled, was to prove the Sharks’ Achilles heel on the day though, with Guy Cronje missing the first of several tricky conversion attempts. The Valke scored a surprise equaliser, also not converted, but that was about the last time they were in the game, as three quick-fire tries from Howard Mnisi, Kobus de Kock and Lee Thompson saw the bonus point achieved within 22 minutes. Thompson, who came on as an early replacement for the unfortunate Nico Claasen within the first 10 minutes, played a blinder of a game and along with Kyle Cooper and Gerhard Mostert, was the pick of the forwards. Claasen went off with a knee injury, which unfortunately looks serious.

At 24-5 up, the Sharks XV were cruising, before they again conceded a try, although the margin was quickly restored once more as de Kock broke for the umpteenth time to put big Daniel Adonga under the sticks, with Cronje converting to give his side a 31-12 half time lead. The Sharks XV fullback was once again in sublime form, making a regular difference when he joined the line and with five tries from three starts, he is in joint first place on the competition try scoring log. He took over the goal kicking from Cronje in the second half too and succeeded with three conversion attempts, moving him up to third on the overall competition points tally as well.

The second half proceeded much as the first had done, although the Sharks XV did battle, at time, to fully capitalise on the good work they’d done. Further tries to Jerome Pretorius, Cooper, Thompson (again), Ross Cronje, Lindeque (again) and replacement scrumhalf Cobus Reinach (although the official match stats erroneously credit his score to Lindeque as well) ensured a real riot, but the Valke were again let in for two of their own in the half, meaning that they take a valuable bonus point away from the contest, something that the Sharks XV will not be too happy about.

“We were obviously happy about the five points,” Sharks XV forward coach Ryan Strudwick told us afterwards, but hinted that there is still much work to be done. “We produced some great rugby, but struggled to keep it going for any length of time, though. Our individual skills let us down once again while the open nature of the game resulted in players going off on their own individual programs. We were also very disappointed to let through four tries, which gave them a point”.

The Sharks XV face a tricky away fixture against the Lions in the next round. The Joburg side boast an experienced team who managed to win for the first time this weekend when they downed Boland. Other results in the Vodacom Cup saw Griquas continue their strong form as they beat SWD 33-0, while the Blue Bulls lost their third game in a row, to the Pampas XV. The EP Kings strolled to a regulation win over the Pumas, but once again fielded ineligible players and risk having further log points docked.



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