RYAN VREDE saw the Sharks comprehensively beat Western Province 43-27 in difficult conditions at Kings Park.
Durban was battered with a sustained torrential downpour which completely waterlogged the surface. This made any sort of skill beyond a high punt or forward-based phase play near impossible and consequently adversely affected the quality of the match. The Sharks mastered the conditions while WP sunk. Furthermore, their discipline was atrocious, with Jebb Sinclair and Tyrone Holmes red carded for punching and Wilhelm van der Sluys (harshly) yellow carded.
Bombs were blended with grinding forward play, the Sharks better at taking advantage of the infringements forced through this method, Meyer Bosman kicking five penalties to go with four conversions for a 23 point haul.
Despite dominating large passages of play, WP simply never threatened to regularly break down a physical and accurate Sharks defensive unit. Their rolling maul got some purchase, but beyond that their tactical kicking game lacked the consistent precision to drive them into good field positions and their ball-in-hand play was uninspiring. The Sharks absorbed the pressure well, refusing to undermine their cause by becoming loose and profited as a result.
Bosman and Demetri Catrakilis traded three pointers to get the scoreboard going before Sharks flank Jacques Botes finished a slick move. The match meandered through dour passages thereafter, Bosman and Catrakilis continuing their boot war to leave the Sharks 16-12 ahead at the break.
Bosman banked six more points after the restart and the odds swung in the Sharks’ favour when Sinclair decked Jean Deysel to earn an early shower. Keegan Daniel scored shortly thereafter, sniping through the middle of a ruck to score.
WP’s rebuttal was good, Louis Schreuder driving over from close range after the defensive line had been depleted, Catrakilis adding the extras. But that good work was undone when Holmes jabbed Botes, who rubbed salt into the wounds by scoring shortly thereafter.
Schreuder intercepted and sprinted 80m to score, giving WP faint hope of what would have been a remarkable result in the circumstances. But Joe Pietersen missed the conversion that would have put them in contention for a draw. The game ended with a five-man WP scrum conceding a penalty try.