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Composed Cheetahs edge shaky Sharks


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content on 15 Feb 2015 at 14:19
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

The Sharks got their Super Rugby campaign off to a poor start, going down 29-35 to the Cheetahs in Durban yesterday. With the home team looking short of rhythm and ideas for much of the contest, it was the high-flying visitors who scored four tries to take maximum points from the fixture.

Rocked ahead of kick-off by the late withdrawal of Bismarck du Plessis, the Sharks battled for supremacy at the breakdown and were often penalised for illegal antics at this phase. Despite that, they drew first blood via a Pat Lambie penalty, before the Cheetahs struck through a Jean Cook try – with Coenie Oosthuizen featuring strongly in the build-up. Cheetahs flyhalf Joe Pietersen, who had a solid outing, nailed the conversion for a 7-3 lead, before Lambie cut the deficit with his second penalty.

It was the flyhalf (and captain) himself who edged his side in front, scoring off a great scrum move that saw Tera Mtembu and Cobus Reinach combine well to send Lambie over. Alas, that 13-7 lead was to be the last one the Sharks held in the game, with Francois Venter scoring the Cheetahs’ second not long afterwards. Lambie narrowed the gap once more, seeing his team trail 16-20 at the half time break. Looking back, one could clearly see the difference in cohesion between the two sides, one perhaps explained by the lack of match practice afforded to the Sharks group ahead of the season opener.

It was more of the same in the second half; the early loss of Beast Mtawarira to a serious calf injury upset the rhythm at scrum time and without Bismarck’s famed poaching abilities, the Sharks battled for ball against a quicker – and harder – Cheetahs pack. Lambie and Pietersen continued to trade penalties, with the former bringing his team within a point (22-23) before the wheels fell off, courtesy of two quick-fire Cheetah tries. Boom Prinsloo and Carl Wegner scored within minutes of each other, securing a bonus point for the visitors and sending them into an unassailable seeming lead with only a quarter of an hour to play.

To give the Sharks some credit, they never stopped trying and in fact came far closer to pulling off a surprising win than the final scoreline may tell. A fantastic team effort led to a Lwazi Mvovo try to bring them back within scoring distance, with a further set of furious attacks in the lead up to the final whistle unfortunately not resulting in the score that would have given them the perhaps undeserved spoils. In the end, they had to make do with a losing bonus point (which in itself was quite an achievement given the mess they’d ended up in on 65 minutes) and will have plenty of work to do ahead of next week’s game against the Lions.

Welcome to Super Rugby, Sharks. It only gets harder from here.

Cell C Sharks: 29 (16)
Tries: Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo
Conversions: Pat Lambie (2)
Penalties: Pat Lambie (5)

Cheetahs: 35 (20)
Tries: Jean Cook, Francois Venter, Boom Prinsloo, Carl Wegner
Conversions: Joe Pietersen (2), Willie du Plessis (1)
Penalties: Joe Pietersen (3)



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