Durban’s Sharks moved back into contention for the Super Rugby play off places by beating the Cheetahs 26-10 in Durban.
The result moves the Sharks back above the Bulls in the South African Group and crucially into the last Wild Card place for the group.
The Bulls victory over the Sunwolves in the match immediately prior to this put them above the Sharks and into the Wild card place.
The Sharks led 10-7 at half time but opened up in the second half and went on to outscore the Cheetahs by two tries to one in the match.
The Sharks scored a try in each half against the Free State outfit, while their flyhalf Garth April kicked two conversions and four penalties for a contribution of 16 points.
The opening quarter of the match was riddled with mistakes, as both teams made a lot of handling errors after a few showers before the clash kicked off.
The match came to life in the 15th minute when the Sharks’ captain Tendai Mtawarira shoved a Cheetahs player in the face with an open hand and was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.
The visitors then made use of the numerical advantage from the resulting penalty when they spread the ball wide before their captain Francois Venter drew in the Sharks defence and passed to Raymond Rhule to score in the left corner.
The Cheetahs, though, conceded a penalty straight from the kickoff, which gave April the chance to open the home side’s account from the kicking tee.
The Cheetahs were dominating the seven-man Sharks pack. As a result, they were awarded a few penalties when they were within reach of the home team’s goalline.
Referee Stuart Berry didn’t award them a penalty try midway through the first half, even though the Sharks kept on pulling the scrum down under pressure.
It was ironical that the Sharks profited from a penalty at the scrum time in the Cheetahs’ half in the 34th minute. Wing JP Pietersen rounded off a try following a quick tap by No 8 Phillip Van Der Walt and good hands from April.
The Cheetahs levelled the scores two minutes after the break when their flyhalf Fred Zeilinga kicked a penalty. However, April kicked another two penalties to give the Sharks a six-point lead on the hour mark.
The Sharks then took control of the encounter in the 62nd minute when replacement scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer intercepted a pass in the Cheetahs’ half, and raced away to dot down under the post. April kicked the conversion and later another penalty to see off the Cheetahs.
Next week in the final round of the regular Super Rugby season the Sharks play the Sunwolves at home in Durban. The Cheetahs host the Bulls in Bloemfontein.
Final Score Sharks 26 (10) Cheetahs 10 (7)
Tries – J.P.Pietersen, S.Ungerer
Pen -G.April 4
Con – G.April 2
Cards – T.Mtawarira (15th min yellow)
Tries – R.Rhule
Con – F.Zeilinga
Referee: Stuart Berry (Durban, South Africa)
Assistant Ref 1:Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 2:Archie Sehlako
TMO :Marius Jonker
15. Rhyno Smith, 14. S’bura Sithole , 13. JP Pietersen , 12. Andre Esterhuizen , 11. Lwazi Mvovo , 10. Garth April, 9. Michael Claassens , 8. Philip van der Walt, 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Keegan Daniel , 5. Stephan Lewies , 4. Etienne Oosthuizen , 3. Coenie Oosthuizen , 2. Franco Marais , 1. Tendai Mtawarira (C)
Replacements:16. Chiliboy Ralepelle ,17. Thomas du Toit,18. Lourens Adriaanse,19. Ruan Botha, 20. Tera Mtembu,21. Stefan Ungerer, 22. Heimar Williams, 23. Curwin Bosch,
1. Ox Nche , 2. Torsten van Jaarsveld , 3. Maks van Dyk , 4. Carl Wegner , 5. Francois Uys (vc) , 6. Uzair Cassiem , 7. Oupa Mohoje , 8. Paul Schoeman , 9. Shaun Venter , 10. Fred Zeilinga , 11. Raymond Rhule , 12. Michael van der Spuy , 13. Francois Venter (C) , 14. Sergeal Petersen , 15. Clayton Blommetjies
Replacements: , 16. Joseph Dweba , 17. Charles Marais , 18. Johan Coetzee , 19. Reniel Hugo , 20. Henco Venter , 21. Tian Meyer , 22. George Whitehead , 23. William Small-Smith