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Sharks take the spoils in fitting farewell to Smit

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 25 Jun 2012 at 09:41
Tagged with : , , , , ,

With Friday night’s festival atmosphere at Kings Park dominating proceedings, John Smit’s “Barney’s Army” invitational XV battled to contain a young Sharks outfit, with John Plumtree-s Currie Cup-strength selection prevailing 47-21. On a wonderful evening where so many rugby friendships and memories were celebrated, neither the final scoreline nor (to be fair) the quality of the rugby were ever going to be of much significance.

Not to say that the Sharks didn’t take anything from this game, though. While it’s fair to say that Smitty’s boys came into the game looking a little like a bunch punch-drunk former greats, there were enough big names in that lineup to ensure that the young Sharks had to fight for every inch gained – particularly up front. Looking every bit a team that hasn’t played together in some weeks, the Sharks’ rustiness was telling and for large periods in the first stanza, it was the Army who controlled the ball and forced the home side into making plenty of tackles.

The Sharks had some calm heads of their own, though and despite out-of-position Riaan Viljoen’s oft-wayward kicking from hand, those wider out in the backline were composed throughout, with Louis Ludik at fullback again hardly putting a foot wrong all evening. It was his mate at right wing, Odwa Ndungane, who showed a clean pair of heels in scoring the first try, although this was quickly cancelled out by the lightning quick Brent Russell, one of the few Army men who still looks up for rugby at this level.

As the Sharks found their rhythm, though, the tries started to come, with Tim Whitehead also enjoying a great first half as he scored the next two. Ref Mark Lawrence clearly felt some sympathy for Smitty and his cohorts, though and attempted to even the contest by dismissing both Meyer Bosman and Ludik in quick succession, after transgressions that hardly warranted the yellow cards shown. Although Ludik’s attempted intercept close to his line was deemed worthy of a penalty try (which Smitty himself converted to much appreciation from the crowd), it’s a credit to the Sharks that they conceded no further points while reduced to 13.

Another who was very good on the night was hooker Craig Burden and he duly scored the fourth soon after the break. Impressive Chris Cloete burst free to score the fifth straight afterwards, after lovely work from the kick-off by Peet Marais. That man Burden played a huge role in the sixth, making a clean break before feeding to a flying Cobus Reinach, while it was ultimate team man Ndungane who passed to debutant Rosco Speckman over the line to allow the youngster to record the seventh. For the Army, a late consolation try to former Sharks age-group lock Robin Linde was all they could manage in the half.

All-in-all, though, a great evening’s entertainment was dished up at Kings Park and the Sharks chowed that while Barney and his friends will always be missed, there’s enough young talent coming through in the Tank to do his legacy justice in the years to come.

The Sharks: 47 (19)
Tries: Odwa Ndungane, Tim Whitehead (2), Craig Burden, Chris Cloete, Cobus Reinach, Rosco Speckman
Conversions: Meyer Bosman (2), Riaan Viljoen (4)

World XV: 21 (7)
Tries: Brent Russell, Penalty Try, Rob Linde
Conversions: Percy Montgomery (1), John Smit (2)


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