SHARKS HOPE TO SOLIDIFY TOP SPOT
By: Khanyisani Dlomo
Sharks will be looking to cement their place at the top of the Super Rugby log when they host Highlanders on Friday.
This comes on the back of a lacklustre win against the Cheetahs at Growthpoint King Spark Stadium on Saturday.
This will be their last home game before embarking on a month-long tour to Australia and New Zealand.
On Saturday, Jake White’s team suffered a disappointment after JP Pietersen was withdrawn from the game just before kick off, with Jaco van Tonder coming in to take his place on the wing.
Both teams played physically and defensively – scoring just one try each. The visitors took the lead through an early penalty from flyhalf Elgar Watts following an offside call against the hosts. Since then both sides appeared to be in a frenetic motion, playing a disjointed nature of the game.
It took the Durban side 34 minutes to get their first points when debutant Tim Swiel slotted a penalty to level matters.
In the second half, Frans Steyn kicked three of the Sharks four penalties.
The Free State side was reduced to 12-men after Heinrich Brussow -who had been a thorn to the hosts – was shown a yellow card for cynical play. Rayno Benjamin managed to latch onto a loose ball that had been charged down and score the first try of the game but Watts missed the conversion.
The Sharks stormed into 19-8 victory when Jean Deysel scored a late try, together with the conversion, to help the Sharks consolidate their position at the summit.
The Cheetahs are experiencing a horrid run in this competition. They are at the bottom of the standings after suffering seven defeats, one draw and recorded just one win.
Despite a scrappy and lacklustre display, Sharks boss White will be pleased with a six points gap at the top.
In other matches, the Stormers hammered the Lions 18 -3 while the second-placed Chiefs dropped points against the Crusaders.