Resurgent Sharks overhaul Cheetahs
Sat, 14 Jul 2012 16:46
The Sharks scored 28 unanswered second-half points to beat the Cheetahs 34-15 in Durban and secure a Super Rugby play-off spot.
The bonus-point victory puts the Sharks in fifth place on the overall standings, which means that they will travel away for their play-off next week, although their opponents will be determined by the outcome of the clash between the Bulls and the Lions at Loftus Versfeld.
In this round there were two matches which each had really only one worthwhile half- the first half when the Crusaders played the Force and the second half when the Sharks played the Cheetahs, and then not the whole of the second half.
The first half at Kings Park started off scruffy, redolent of that match in Johannesburg when the uninterested Sharks dawdled to defeat. That's how it looked in Durban on Saturday evening after the rain. Changes to the team and a change to the attitude produced a second half that scored more points than were needed to get into the 'quarterfinal' play-off, what the French call the barrages.
The first move was a change in playing personnel, bringing on first Willem Alberts and then Bismarck du Plessis, both in the first half. Suddenly the Sharks had some thrust. But by half-time they were losing 15-6 - five kicks to two kicks. Frédéric Michalak kicked one and Riaan Smit kicked three. Michalak kicked another one and Smit another two.
Smit's second penalty goal was for a tip tackle by Frans Steyn which earned him 10 minutes in the sin bin and a likely interview with a disciplinary committee.
It was 12-6 when Alberts came on and started charging. Soon afterwards the Sharks looked likely to score a try but Lambie could not grab a bouncing ball from Frans Steyn.
One big change was not John Plumtree's doing. Heinrich Brüssow did not come back in the second half. He stayed off with an icepack on his knee. This may have been the most significant change of the match because, as it his wont, Brüssow controlled the breakdowns in the first half and the Cheetahs enjoyed a majority of possession. In the second half 80% of the possession belonged to the Sharks, for the Cheetahs had nobody like a Brüssow to steal for them.
The change for the Sharks that did not work was shunting Jannie du Plessis across to the loosehead where WP Nel dominated him and the Springbok tighthead was penalised twice.
The Sharks started the second half picking and driving. JP Pietersen lost the ball at the line and then they went with short, quick passes till Keegan Daniel threw a dummy and accelerated inside first Robert Ebersohn and thenoutside Willie le Roux to score. 15-13 after 44 minutes.
It was all Sharks now.
Lwazi Mvovo was over but there had been a forward pass. Louis Ludik broke and Steyn was close. Then came a startling break from Pietersen. He cut in at an angle past three Cheetahs before, right-footed, he kicked right off the outside of his boot and Charl McLeod scored. There were queries about a knock-on but the match officials believed it was off a knee and, bless them, they did not guess. 20-15 after 57 minutes. The Sharks now had the points' difference to take them above the Brumbies.
Michalak kicked an up-and-under. Pietersen went after it, leapt with effortless ease and caught the ball. The Sharks went right and Marcell Coetzee skated past Andries Strauss to score at the posts. 27-15 after 60 minutes.
For the last try Steyn won a turnover and gave to Bismarck du Plessis. With great vision the hooker threw a perfect overhead pass to Tim Whitehead, who played inside to Ryan Kankowski about 38 metres out. He ran on a diagonal straight to the posts for the try. 34-15 after 73 minutes. That was a bonus-point try.
Man of the Match: Sadly Heinrich Brüssow played for only 40 minutes. Bismarck du Plessis and Willem Alberts, who changed the course of the match, also played for only part. Neat, effective, committed Freddy Michalak played for all the match but the player who was there for nearly all the match and made a huge difference is our Man of the Match - JP Pietersen.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Daniel, McLeod, Coetzee, Kankowski
Cons: Michalak 4
Pens: Michalak 2
For the Cheetahs:
Pens: Smit 5
Yellow card: Frans Steyn (Dangerous tackle)
Sharks: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Paul Jordaan, 22 Louis Ludik.
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Philip Snyman, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Andries Strauss.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee
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