The Sharks beat the Stormers 22-10 at a wet Kings Park in Durban, in an evenly contested derby, filled with big hits and ferocious play in the tight phases.
Man-of -the-match Sibusiso Nkosi scored a wonderful try, late in the second-half, to extend his side’s lead to 12-points after SP Marais had scored 10 points on his own after half-time.
Marais brought Robbie Fleck’s team back into the game with a 56th-minute converted try and a penalty, as the Sharks led 15-10 going into the last quarter.
Johan Deysel and Stephan Lewies both scored their first Super Rugby tries as the Natal side took a 15-nil half-time lead in slippery conditions on the South African east coast.
The Stormers had 75 percent possession in the second period but, ultimately, could not break the Sharks’ defence, or spirit.
The Natal team held on for the derby-day win and denying their opponent’s a losing bonus-point in the process.
The Sharks led 8-0 after Garth April’s early penalty and Deysel’s twelfth-minute try.
The forwards went through the phases, Jacobus Reinach switched play to his left to the centre, who barged through EW Viljoen and Marais’ tackles to score.
Marais missed a long-range effort from 53 metres out as the game remained scoreless until late in the first-half.
By now, the rain was falling heavily and the players were struggling to hold onto the ball.
Lukhanyo Am went down after putting in a big hit on Eben Etzebeth. That was very brave and only one winner.
From there, Ruan Botha ripped the ball from a Stormers’ player, sent the ball wide. The initial defence was strong by the visitors.
The Sharks forwards went through the phases, had some quick ball, before the Lewies picked up and dived over from close range.
April’s conversion was good and the home team had a three-score advantage in tricky conditions.
Siya Kolisi’s charges were gathering momentum after the break, and the Sharks were starting to leak too many penalties.
Marais got his team’s first points four minutes in the second-half and soon had his try.
The Stormers went 16 phases and won a penalty. Jano Vermaak took it quickly and Marais crossed the line for his team’s first try of the match; a carbon copy of Lewies’ try.
The full-back converted his own try and his team were only five behind and gathering momentum. The Stormers were gaining in the territory and possession stakes.
Fleck’s team were slowly getting the upper hand when some magic from Nkosi, turned the game and stopped any hopes of the Cape Town franchise mounting a comeback.
Enter Nkosi. With the game in the balance, the winger took the ball at first receiver, cut through Ramone Samuels’ weak tackle and raced away to score under the posts.
April added his second conversion to give his team a cushion as the game wound down.
The Stormers would not yield, mounting attack after attack. Cheslin Kolbe broke up the field, after Seabelo Senatla’s deep counter-attack.
The sevens specialist sent Kolbe away, who combined with Leyds, to set up another opportunity.
However, the Stormers lost the ball forward as Senatla could not gather the loose ball from Chris van Zyl’s offload.
The game ended soon after and the Sharks keep up their chances of a wild card in the Africa 2 Conference.
Final score: Sharks 22 (15) Stormers 10 (0)
Tries – Deysel, Lewies, Nkosi
Pen – April
Con – April (2)
Tries – Marais
Pen – Marais
Con – Marais
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 1: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2: Archie Sehlako
TMO: Marius Jonker
15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Jacobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Jacobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt (captain), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Lubabalo Mtembu, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Odwa Ndungane.
15 Sarel Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi (captain), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Alister Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Seabelo Senatla