Sharks sink Griquas in tryfest

The Sharks moved into second place on the Absa Currie Cup log with a comprehensive 60-8 win over Griquas in Durban.

With Vodacom Western Province losing to the Vodacom Cheetahs, the Sharks now occupy an all important home semi-final place.

The game saw the home side at their attacking best and though Gareth Krause’s men defended well all evening, the Sharks were irrepressible.

Flanker Jacques Botes opened the scoring for the hosts, capitalising on Griquas failure to collect the restart after Conrad Barnard’s drop goal gave them the lead. Frans Steyn converted and and extended the lead to seven points when Griquas were penalised for slowing the ball at the breakdown.

The game was played at a consistently frantic pace, with the only respite being the touch finding tactical kicks of the two flyhalves. Despite pre-match predictions of an abrasive forward battle, the first half was an entertaining show of attacking rugby from both sides.

The Kimberly-based side looked dangerous with ball in hand despite missing key backline players. But an inspired five minute period by Springbok discard Brent Russell all but sealed the win.

Exemplary cover defence following a flowing move by the visitors earned the Sharks a line-out in their 22. They took it quickly, sending the ball down the backline, until Russell collected on the touchline. Allowing the man any space is tantamount to rugby suicide and Griquas were punished for this indiscretion as Russell ran through the cover defence to round off the long range effort.

Russell orchestrated the Sharks’ third try when he gathered an attempted touch-finder and set off on the counterattack. A chip over the defensive line and sublime handling to recollect after the ball spat out of wing, Vuyani Dlomo’s grasp, saw Griquas penalised for killing the ball when Russell took contact. The Sharks took the quick tap and hooker Bismarck du Plessis bludgeoned defenders in his way to cross the tryline.

The early enterprise shown by the visitors was ended by unrelenting Sharks pressure and the bonus-point try came as the half time siren sounded.

A flowing backline move following yet another turnover, culminated in Steyn chipping the ball into the corner. It was almost a carbon copy of the preceding score when the Griquas wing again failed to clear and Du Plessis fell on the loose ball for his second try. Steyn converted from the touchline to send the Sharks into the break with a 29-3 lead.

And the Sharks pressure was unrelenting after half-time.

The Sharks had shown their aptitude to score from open play in the first half but an Odwa Ndungane try from a superb blindside move following a scrum in the opposition 22, showed they were equally adept at striking from set plays. Brad Barritt showed good vision with the cut-out pass to send the winger in for the Sharks’ fifth touchdown.

Griquas resolve was diminished, but a 47th-minute try by hooker Tiaan Liebenberg boosted his gutsy but ultimately outclassed team.

Bismarck du Plessis seemed to have the Midas touch and completed his hat-trick in a move set up by a 40m midfield break by prop Deon Carstens.

Two intercept tries, the first by Adrian Jacobs and the other by Jacques Botes, and a late Waylon Murray score concluded a rousing display of attacking rugby by the hosts.

Sharks
Tries: Jacques Botes (2), Bismarck du Plessis (3), Brent Russell, Adrian Jacobs, Waylon Murray
Conversions: Steyn (4), Jacobs, Strauss
Penalty: Steyn

Griquas
Tries: Tiaan Liebenberg
Drop Goal: Conrad Barnard