The Sharks kept their unbeaten run at Kings Park in check with a hard fought 18-13 win over the Jaguares in Durban.
Curwin Bosch kicked a late penalty to seal the deal as the Sharks edged the South Americans by five points and go second in the Africa 2 Conference.
This was a tense, tight game that saw only one try in the first 40 minutes as the Sharks led 8-6 at the break.
Cobus Reinach crossed after running the length of the field to give the hosts the lead after Nicolás Sánchez kicked two early penalties.
The second half was cagey, Sánchez was yellow carded at the midway point but the sharks could not capitalise, instead, skipper Agustín Creevy scored to cancel out Andre Esterhuizen’s earlier try.
However, the Durbanites would not be denied. Bosch eased the home side’s nerves with a late penalty as the Sharks held out for the win.
The game started well enough for the hosts, Reinach stripping the ball from Pablo Matera and ran 80 metres untouched for the score: Classic opportunism from the scrumhalf.
Bosch could not add the two points and soon the Sharks’ lead was cut and became a one-point deficit after Sánchez kicked two penalties to make it 5-6 to the visitors.
It could have and should have been worse for the Durban team but the Pumas’ standoff missed two more opportunities to extend the Jaguares’ lead.
Bosch went close soon after with a burst through the defensive line. He looked to be in for a certain try before being tackled just short of the try line.
The 19-year-old did add a penalty to regain the lead for the home team, one they would take into the break.
The Sharks were on the scoreboard early after the interval. Esterhuizen’s try and Bosch’s conversion gave Robert du Preez’s men a 15-6 lead.
The Sharks went close after the restart but the move went dead in touch. However, from a lineout maul, the hosts were awarded a penalty for collapsing. Bosch kicked to touch, they set up a drive.
Coenie Oosthuizen took a crash ball, from the ruck, Reinach gave a flat ball to the centre who carried both Jaguares’ centres over the whitewash with him.
Reinach almost had another but was ruled out by the TMO on review after his captain Lubabalo Mtembu touched the ball, thereby making it a knock-on.Sánchez was soon sin-binned on 57 minutes for a cynical tackle – his second yellow this season.
Sánchez was sin-binned near the hour mark for a cynical tackle – his second yellow this season.
The Argentina team is famed for their ill-discipline and often play out their matches with 13 – and sometimes 12 – players on the field. It does not stop them from accumulating points, though.
On 62 minutes, Marcos Kremer was stopped short by Lourens Adriaanse. however, after a long TMO review, Angus Gardner awarded Creevy his second try of the season.
Jaguares skipper dived on the ball from close range to reduce the Sharks’ lead to two points. Bautista Ezcurra, on kicking duty, added the conversion, 15-13.
It was squeak-bum time for the hosts as they clung on to their small lead. The game was getting scrappy, both teams searching for another score to settle the contest.
With three minutes remaining, Bosch eased the home support’s nerves with a penalty to give the hosts a five-point lead, one they would not relinquish.
It was not pretty but, the Sharks remain unbeaten at Kings Park and stay on the heels of the Lions in the Africa 2 Conference.
Final score is Sharks 18 (8) Jaguares 13 (6)
Tries – Reinach, Esterhuizen
Pen – Bosch (2)
Con – Bosch
Tries – Creevy
Pen – Sánchez (2)
Con – Ezcurra
Cards – Yellow (Sánchez, 57th minute)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: Stuart Berry
TMO: Marius Jonker
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Jacobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Inny-Christian Radebe, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Lubabalo Mtembu (captain), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Rhyno Smith.
15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Bautista Ezcurra, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Marcos Kremer, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Lucas Noguera.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Tejerizo, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Felipe Arregui, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Rodrigo Baez, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Santiago Gonzales Iglesias, 23 Santiago Cordero.