Match report compliments of a knowledgeable local Cape coach.
The Sharks who hadn’t beaten Western Province since 2013 before this season, completed a home-and-away double to ensure they finished top of the log and secured a home semi-final in the process.
WP started off well, playing with a fairly strong wind. Chris Rossouw (hooker) scored a try after a well-constructed maul. The main source of lineout possession was through Marcel Theunissen (first choice locks Ian Kitwanga and Herman le Roux as well as flank JL de Lange were ruled out due to injury). The conversion was hooked to the right by Schreuder: WP 5-0 after 3 minutes. |
Soon after the kick off WP went on the attack but Sharks outside centre Muller du Plessis made a huge hit on Province no.12 Rikus Pretorius, who lost the ball in the tackle.
The Sharks got into the Province half and after a penalty was awarded to the Sharks, a lineout maul was set. It was well-contested by WP but they were penalised again. After a quick tap penalty and a few phases set up by the forwards, Sharks lock JJ vd Mescht scored a try while running at an angle: 5-5 after 11 minutes.
Initially there were quite a few resets in the scrums with the Sharks having a slight edge.
A while later the WP right wing Christian Guetang, who had a rather good afternoon otherwise, made the mistake of letting a ball bounce after trying to receive a kick. (In his defence, the ball was held back by the wind). The Sharks gathered the ball and during this play they received a penalty which was converted by scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba in the 18th minute, giving the Sharks an 8-5 lead.
From the next kick off left wing Angelo Davids regathered the ball brilliantly for WP. The hosts kept possession and after receiving a penalty, they mauled from a lineout. The Sharks were penalised and WP played quickly. The powerful blindside flank, Tonderai Chiwumbutsa stormed over for a try, converted by Schreuder, putting WP 12-8 up after 21 minutes.
Meanwhile Muller du Plessis who had a fairly quiet afternoon on attack has made another big hit, this time on his opposite number David Kriel.
A few minutes later the Sharks were on attack inside the 22m of WP. Theunissen made a vital lineout steal to relieve the pressure. WP worked their way back towards the half of the Sharks. From here Schreuder made a fine linebreak. A few phases were set up and Province halfback Lucky Dlepu scored a try by sniping around a ruck. The conversion was good and WP were leading 19–8.
Eventually WP were back on the attack after receiving the kick off and keeping the ball. They then made a vital mistake. A back ball in the lineout was overthrown (with just 2 minutes left before the break) and the Sharks came away from their 22m area.
During the final play of the 1st half, a back ball was also thrown by the visitors to their no.8 Pepsi Buthelezi (who had a very good game), from where the Sharks mauled and scored via hooker Fez Mbatha. The try was not converted, nevertheless it was a telling one just before the break.
The wind made it difficult at lineout time for both sides but both hookers did fairly well under the circumstances. Apart from the overthrown ball, Pepsi poached one ball through good contesting and WP lost a front ball as well: the only lineout thrown to the front of WP during the match. The replacement lock Ross Taylor (who started the match because of second row injuries mentioned) worked hard in general play but was just not tall enough to be a real threat at the lineout time. The Sharks also lost two lineout balls.
The teams switched ends at 19-13 in favour of the home team.
During the 2nd half the Sharks had the wind in their backs and they’ve used the conditions well. WP actually started off soundly and kept the ball for quite a number of phases before the inevitable knock on undid the good work.
After 5 minutes the Sharks were inside WP’s half and eventually flank Dylan Richardson, who had an excellent afternoon, scored. The try was converted and the Sharks regained the lead at 20–19.
The subsequent kick off didn’t travel 10 metres and at the resulting scrum in the middle of the field, WP got penalised. The Sharks set up an attacking lineout. WP contested well but knocked the ball. The Sharks had a brilliant 8, 9, 11 set move from a scrum on the left hand side of the field and the left wing Asanda Kunene went over for the first of his two tries. Nohamba landed the difficult conversion from the touchline and the Sharks were now leading 27–19 after 11 minutes, having scored 19 unanswered points. It seemed as if the game was slipping away from WP at this stage.
WP were awarded a free kick from a scrum and played quickly. Eventually Angelo Davids scored in the corner to earn his team a 4-try bonus point. The conversion hit the crossbar. This brought matters back to a one-score game at 27–24 and it seemed as if a tense finish was on the cards.
At this stage both teams have cleared their benches. With 13 minutes remaining the Sharks had an attacking lineout and set up a driving maul. The referee initially said that the ball was held up but the AR suggested that a try was scored by reliable replacement prop Adriaan Staples. Another excellent conversion made the score 34–24 to the Sharks.
The try of the afternoon was scored 5 minutes before the end of normal playing time (Injury time was added). It came about from a scrum on the right hand side of the field. Sharks fullback Thaakir Abrahams joined the line from the back and went through a gap, after which he put his left wing Kunene away for a try to seal the game and take the under-18 winger to the top of the try-scoring chart with his 9th of the campaign. The Sharks had an unassailable 39–24 lead.
The WP side kept on fighting though. Ball retention was a strong point which allows them to control possession for long periods. Province were awarded a number of penalties until in the 41st minute of running time, they scored via Ross Taylor. Replacement Baby Bok flyhalf Davie Coetzer converted the try, making the final score 39–31 to the Sharks.
Fulltime : Sharks 39 Western Province 31
Western Province season by season since u19 Championship expanded to two rounds