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Sharks U21′s claim third spot


Written by beet bailey (beet)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Lions, Original Content, Sharks on 28 Aug 2011 at 14:13
Tagged with : , , , , ,

The Sharks under 21 team beat their Lions counterparts 24-18 with an exciting come from behind finish. The win not only prevented a Lions’ clean-sweep of the 3 matches at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday but also enabled the Durban based team to leapfrog their Jozi rivals on the under 21 log, moving them into 3rd spot with 20 points at the halfway stage of this year’s completion.

Both teams struggled to achieve continuity for the best part of 80 minutes but the closeness of the game coupled with 4 really good tries provided early arrivers at the ground with first-rate entertainment. For visiting fans there was the added bonus of the Sharks saving the best for last as they proved just how good a side they are when they get the chemistry right.

Sharks openside flank Frans Kleinhans got over for the first try. Having received the ball in a wide position, the former Glenwood boy chose an angled route towards the corner flag before cutting back and showing tremendous strength to stay on his feet through two tackles.

The Lions responded almost immediately with a try of their own by fullback Ruan Combrinck. Combrinck, who had once formed part of the deadly Michaelhouse 2008 backline, joined the line while moving at full tilt and his pace proved to be too much to handle for no fewer than five would-be tacklers.

The halftime score of 11-11 was a fair reflection of the way the things had panned out. Points with the boot had been added by Marlow alumni Gouws Prinsloo of the Sharks and the Lions’ flyhalf Hein Cronje.

Shortly after the break, Cronje scored a decisive try. The stocky standoff ran strongly onto a ball distributed quickly from a lineout on the Sharks 22m line. He spotted an opening near the tail of the lineout and ran the perfect line, dissect defenders on either side of him. His conversion proved to be the last of the Lions points for the remaining 35 minutes.

In the 53rd minute, the Sharks turned to their bench for the first round of tactical changes that were to hand them the ascendency and shape the outcome of the match. Two of substitutes called into early action were Westville Old Boy Monde Hadebe who made his presence felt immediately and arguably the best player on the ground in this year’s competition – Chris Cloete, a product of Selborne College.

However despite their ever growing domination, the Sharks could do no better than to narrow the gap to 18-14, compliments of another Prinsloo penalty.

A thrilling 6-minute period near the death, had the Sharks camping in the red zone without being able to crack the Lions’ resolute defensive structures. By this stage an unsung hero of their 2011 campaign to date had entered the fray. Brynard Stander, another product of Westville Boys High, is yet to give anything less than a 100% effort this year and it was the third of his powerful line busts that eventually broke the camel’s back. The go-forward generated from Stander’s 15-metre carry, presented an opportunity for Cloete to pick and drive the recycled ball over the line for the winning try.

Prinsloo added the conversion and another penalty to put the result beyond doubt at 24-18. The in-form fullback enjoyed another afternoon containing several “wow” moments. There is a lot of pleasure to be derived from seeing him in a black and white jersey, however his wonderful all-round ability no doubt places him high up on the wishlists of other unions and so the fear has to also be growing that if he is not offered a more ambitious outlook by the Sharks, he will be lured away to a perceived greener pasture.

The win away from home was an outstanding result for the Sharks under 21 team and if they can click like they did towards the end of this match from the get-go next week at Loftus, there is no reason why they cannot make it 2 from 2 at altitude.

The current standings are 1.Western Province (28), 2.Blue Bulls (25), 3.Sharks (20), 4.Lions (18)



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