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The Sharks maintained their unbeaten Currie Cup record with a 41-20 bonus point victory over Boland on Friday.
The Sharks raced to the bonus point which they had secured by scoring four tries in the opening 37 minutes.
New coach Robert du Preez has enjoyed a 100 percent record in his first competition in charge, and he would’ve been delighted to see the Durban team continue in that vein in a tough venue like the Boland Stadium in Wellington.
A heavy field and a boisterous home crowd always makes it difficult for visiting teams in the Winelands, but the Sharks came firing out of the blocks. Their heavier pack of forwards had the upper hand all afternoon, and it allowed a dangerous backline to operate in space.
Impressive young flyhalf Innocent Radebe – who was voted as the Man of the Match – was the first to make his mark as he cut the Boland defence to pieces in the sixth minute, and once the Sharks got inside the 22, it was just a matter of time before scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer forced his way over.
But the TMO ruled that he had just stepped into touch before dotting down, although it wasn’t long before the visitors did get over the whitewash. Ungerer again played a big part as he threw an excellent pass out wide to find flank Keegan Daniel, who gave it on quickly for veteran wing Odwa Ndungane to round off.
Boland fullback Nico Scheepers pulled three points back with a penalty goal, but try-scorer Ndungane was the instigator for the Sharks’ second five-pointer in the 16th minute.
The former Springbok wing burst through a tackle in midfield to get behind the Boland defence, and the Sharks kept the ball alive through an offload by Ungerer, and then loose forward Tera Mtembu timed his pass to perfection to send Radebe flying over the line.
The Boland Cavaliers couldn’t generate front-foot ball from their forwards, and even though they improved in that regard the longer the game wore on, the surfeit of possession for the Sharks ended up in points almost every time.
Fullback Curwin Bosch slotted a solid 40-metre penalty to increase the lead to 17-3 after 23 minutes, but two tries within nine minutes before half-time ended the match as a contest.
Barnstorming inside centre André Esterhuizen was the catalyst for the Sharks’ third try when he broke up the middle, and after Mtembu and No 8 Philip van der Walt kept the move going, Esterhuizen was on hand to finish off powerfully when he held off three defenders to bang the ball down on the line.
And the coup de grace was delivered by former Bok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, who benefited from the forwards’ pick and drives and crashed over for the bonus-point try before half-time.
The Cavaliers hit back after the break through wing Danwel Demas, when replacement flyhalf and Namibian international Theuns Kotze drew the defence and produced a brilliant offload to put Demas over.
The Sharks went through the motions a bit after that, with the victory seemingly already secured, but Boland never gave up. Their fans were on their feet again with 18 minutes to go when wing Sergio Torrens showed great pace to finish off from a break by captain and centre Ryan Nell, but that was as good as it got for the Cavaliers.
Some heavyweight replacements in the form of Jean Deysel, Garth April and Franco Marais ensured that the Durban side could lift the tempo in the last quarter, which saw Hanco Venter and Marais scoring two more tries to put 40 points on the board and the Sharks out of reach.
Final Score Boland 20 (3) Sharks: 41 (29)
Tries: Danwel Demas, Sergio Torrens, Ryan Nell
Conversion: Theuns Kotze (1).
Penalty: Nico Scheepers (1)
Tries: Odwa Ndungane, Innocent Radebe, André Esterhuizen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Hanco Venter, Franco Marais.
Conversions: Curwin Bosch (3), Garth April (1)
Penalty: Curwin Bosch (1).
Referee : Marius van der Westhuizen ,
Assistant Referees : Rodney Boneparte, Aimee Barrett ,
Television Match Official : Willie Vos
15. Curwin Bosch , 14. Odwa Ndungane , 13. Heimar Williams , 12. Andre Esterhuizen , 11. S’bura Sithole , 10. Inny Radebe , 9. Stefan Ungerer , 8. Philip van der Walt , 7. Tera Mtembu , 6. Keegan Daniel (C) , 5. Ruan Botha , 4. Etienne Oosthuizen , 3. Thomas du Toit , 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle , 1. Dale Chadwick
Replacements : 16. Franco Marais , 17. John-Hubert Meyer , 18. JC Astle , 19. Jean Deysel , 20. Hanco Venter , 21. Wandile Mjekevu , 22. Garth April
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