Sharks edge Pumas in Currie Cup at Kings Park

The Sharks edged out the Pumas 27-26 in a nail-biting Currie Cup match at Kings
Park in Durban on Saturday.

The men from Durban avoided back-to-back defeats to the Mpumalanga based side
thanks to a splendid kicking display by fullback Joe Pietersen who contributed
12 of his team’s points during the game.

Looking far more cohesive on attack, the Sharks continued to apply pressure
on the Pumas pack and were awarded with a try in the 15th minute, when returning
Springbok Cobus Reinach delivered a well-timed pass which put wing Wandile Mjekevu
in space out wide.

The speedster did well to pierce the Pumas line and Pietersen slotted the conversion
to make it 7-0.

This sparked a sense of urgency the visiting side had not displayed in the match
and in one of their first visits to the Sharks 22, the Pumas managed to cross
the line with lock Marius Coetzer pealing over a ruck to get his team on the

JC Roos knocked-over the conversion to level the scores in the 24th minute.

The cat-like instincts of Pumas scrumhalf Faf de Klerk shone through the very
next minute when he took a quick-tap penalty.

Reinach was first to react to the surprise attack, but received a yellow card
for cynical play in the 26th minute when he failed to retreat 10 metres before
tackling De Klerk.

Roos obliged by knocking over the penalty to hand the Pumas the lead (7-10).

Pietersen would level the scores again on the half-hour mark after the visitors
were caught off-side.

A minute before the break the troubles the Sharks have been having at scrum-time
this season were again exploited by the men from Nelspruit, and from the resulting
penalty Roos would ensure his team enjoyed a three-point lead at half-time.

Still down a man, the Sharks started the second-half content to let the Pumas
call the shots, but as soon as Reinach returned it was all systems go.

In a game-changing situation the Pumas lost Jacques Momberg who was sent-off
for foul play, after the referee ruled that he had dangerously used his boot
near Reinach’s face when the scrumhalf tried to score a try.

After nearly making a hash of the field advantage, centre Paul Jordaan put his
team back in the lead with a well-worked try close to the uprights (17-13).

The Pumas were dealt another blow when Roos limped-off with a knee injury and
the team’s replacement kicker, Justin van Staden, missed a relatively
easy penalty which came as a result of the pressure his team had put on the
home side.

But despite being a man short, the Pumas managed to take back the lead in the
55th minute when wing Bernado Botha darted down the sideline after picking the
ball up at a ruck.

Botha off-loaded to fullback JW Bell and Van Staden converted to make it 17-20.

Van Staden took his team six-points clear on the hour mark (17-23), and from
there the replacement pivot dictated play before nailing a 50-metre penalty
which put nine-points between the sides with 15-minutes remaining on the clock.

Mjekevu ensured that it would be a nail-biting finish when he scored his second
try of the match in the 70th minute.

Pietersen converted to make it 24-26 and from the returning kick-off it was
a case of all-out attack by the hosts.

After multiple attempts to score from set-phase, the Sharks eventually opted
to let Pietersen put them ahead with five-minutes remaining in the match (27-26).

The Pumas had a last chance penalty that would have seen them win the match
with a penalty three-minutes from full-time, but Van Staden’s kick from
far out was off target.

Full time score Sharks 27(

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