Sharks grind out Western Province Currie Cup win

The Natal Sharks were made to work for a 20-25 Currie Cup victory over a second string Western Province side at Newlands on Saturday.

The Sharks will face the Golden Lions next week at Ellis Park while the Blue Bulls will travel to Newlands to face Western Province in the Semi-finals.

The Sharks got an almost perfect start as S’bura Sithole scored a try for the visitors in the second minute putting them into the lead.

Western Province however worked their way into the lead by half time before the Sharks drew level in the 53rd minute and then took the lead 10 minutes later.

After trailing by 9 points at half time the Sharks went on to score 17 unanswered points in the second half.

Before kick-off, the stage was set for a dead rubber because the result of
the earlier Golden Lions – Free State Cheetahs game meant that the Newlands
outcome would have no bearing on the eventual log positions by the time the
regular season ends later on Saturday evening.

The Sharks needed little to strike up cohesion and their spirited start caught
Province napping. They were good for two tries in the opening four minutes when
Province defence was in disarray but the Durban visitors had to settle for a
lone unconverted touchdown by centre Sibusiso Sithole (5-0).

Province regained their composure soon afterwards and launched a few raids
into the Sharks’ half where they won ninth and 15th minute penalties.

Flyhalf Kurt Coleman goaled both and Province snatched a one-point lead (6-5),
which lasted only two minutes after Sharks flyhalf Lionel Cronje goaled a penalty
(8-6).

Halfway the first half, both teams seemed to throw the ball about with gay
abandon, and often at the risk of intercepts. Province were enjoying the major
share of possession and they made it count as they ran the Sharks’ defence ragged.

The result was two converted tries in the space of five minutes and this passage
of play seemed to suggest that this backstop Province side was every bit as
enterprising as the ‘first’ team.

First centre Pat Howard rounded off splendidly after the Province backline
showed delightful touches and then in the 25th minute Coleman sliced through
a gap for his side’s second try (20-8).

Province continued to impress with a steady stream of attacking sorties much
to the delight of the 27 000 crowd but they were twice held up a whisker from
the try line and had to return to the dressing room for the halftime break without
further advance.

Cronje was on target with a penalty on the stroke of halftime to reduce the
lead to nine points (20-11).

After the break, the Sharks were again first out of the blocks and managed
to pin Province down in their own half for about 10 minutes after the restart.

The Sharks effort during this stage of the match was worth far more than the
six points from two Cronje penalties but rightwing Tonderai Chavhanga failed
to gather a poorly timed scoring pass with the tryline at his mercy (20-17).

Province’s attemprs to shake the Sharks’ hold on the match suffered a setback
when their flank Rhynardt Elstadt was yellow carded for a side entry at a loose
scrum, and Cronje added insult to injury by goaling the resultant penalty, which
leveled scores at 20-all.

The Sharks’™pressure lasted just past the hour mark and they were helped
along by several penalties which Province conceded. One of these penalties was
booted into touch to set up a maul from the resultant line-out and reserve prop
Lourens Adriaanse peeled over for Sharks’ second try, which went unconverted
(25-20).

By the 65th minute, Province had virtually cleared their substitutes bench
but the fresh legs could not regain the initiative.

Virtually the entire second half was played in the P

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