Sharks finish with a flourish

The Sharks fought back from a 10-point deficit to claim a 33-20 bonus-point win against the Pumas at Kings Park.

The Pumas have gained a reputation this season of pushing the bigger teams close but not having enough firepower to finish the job. It was the same story in Durban on Saturday, as they did well to establish a 17-7 first-half lead before fading away.

The Sharks did not play anywhere near their best, but still managed to score five tries, including three in the second half when they visibly lifted the tempo.

Pumas No 12 Tiaan Marx opened the scoring with a penalty from the halfway line, but it was the Sharks who scored the first try. A Pumas backline move broke down, Keegan Daniel hacked the ball ahead and the visitors were penalised inside their 22 for holding on. Daniel took the quick tap and while he accidentally kicked the ball ahead, he was able to pick it up and give the try-scoring pass to Craig Burden.

The Pumas regained the lead shortly after, when a slick pass put Marius Coetzer into space on halfway. The second rower charged into the Sharks’ 22 and found Marx, who sent Coenie van Wyk away for the try.

The Pumas flyhalf struck again on the half-hour mark when he intercepted a pass from loosehead Dale Chadwick (the Sharks had a three-on-one overlap on the left) and ran 80m to make it 17-7.

That, though, was as good as it got for the Pumas.

Jean Deysel made it a three-point ball game when he claimed possession 15m out, stepped past flanker Jaco Bouwer and sent winger Deon Scholtz flying into touch with a hand-off, before diving over.

Van Wyk kicked a penalty early in the second half but the Sharks began to dominate possession and scored through replacement lock Anton Bresler.

With 15 minutes to go, another Sharks attack saw Jacques Botes pick up a poor pass from Daniel to grab the bonus-point try and the replacement flanker went over again in the 72nd minute to put the result beyond doubt.

By Simon Borchardt

Follow Simon on Twitter