Sharks finish in pole

JON CARDINELLI reports that a 42-3 victory against Griquas has allowed the Sharks to finish the Currie Cup league in first place.

The Sharks went into this match having already secured a home semi-final. And yet, John Plumtree will be thrilled to have ended the league phase with such a resounding victory.

Friday’s result at the Shark Tank will see them taking plenty of momentum into the play-offs. It also places them in a strong position to host the Currie Cup final.

They cannot be overtaken by the other play-off contenders, and if they can win next week’s semi-final, they’ll feel confident that they can go all the way in a decider staged at Kings Park.

Griquas struggled to match the Sharks’ physicality in Friday’s match, and were guilty of too many basic errors. They were mistakes the Sharks punished, scoring 15 points inside the first half hour. It was a barrage from which Griquas did not recover.

The visitors had a chance to strike back when Sharks captain Keegan Daniel was sin-binned for cynical play in the 31st minute. But again, Griquas failed to hold on to the ball, handing possession back to the Sharks.

In fact, it was the Sharks who would score next despite the disadvantage, Lwazi Mvovo finishing to further stretch a commanding lead.

Griquas suffered a further setback when wing Jannie Boshoff was yellow-carded for a spear-tackle right before half-time. Pat Lambie failed with the ensuing penalty attempt, but managed to convert a subsequent opportunity after the break.

Lambie played a telling part in two of the Sharks’ three first-half tries. A well-weighted grubber created a try-scoring chance for Louis Ludik, as did an inside ball to Mvovo.

The Sharks flyhalf kicked well out of hand, and was successful with seven of his nine kicks at goal. It was an all-round performance that will boost Lambie’s confidence ahead of the play-offs, and also give national coach Heyneke Meyer food for thought ahead of that end-of-year tour to Europe.

Special mention should also be made of the Sharks’ defence. Once Griquas were more than two scores behind, they began kicking every penalty opportunity to touch. And on every occasion, the Sharks defence managed to hold out.

Griquas’ failure to secure any log points from this fixture means that they will remain in fourth position below Western Province. There is a chance, however, that Griquas will be overtaken by the Cheetahs and Blue Bulls on Saturday.