Sharks extend winning run
MATCH REPORT: The Sharks extended their winning run to seven matches when they edged the Pumas 27-25 in an exciting match in Nelspruit on Friday.
Rhyno Smith's try four minutes from time proved to be the difference as the Sharks also walked away with a bonus-point for scoring four tries in total.
The Pumas walked away with a valuable losing bonus point.
The Pumas were first to open their account in the fourth minute when wing Ruwellyn Isbell scored a try in the corner.
Isbell's try was set up after some powerful play from No.8 Willie Engelbrecht who crashed through a few defenders in the Sharks' 22 from a line-out before the ball went wide. Justin van Staden could not convert the try from a tight angle.
The Pumas then went further in front four minutes later when flyhalf Kobus Marais slotted a penalty after some ill-discipline from the Sharks.
The Sharks finally got their first points of the game when Curwin Bosch converted a penalty to reduce the deficit to five points in the 16th minute.
The visitors should have been just two points behind two minutes later, but Bosch missed a straightforward penalty inside the Pumas' 22.
However, the young flyhalf made up for that embarrassing error when he set-up a try for wing Sibusiso Nkosi out wide.
After a strong scrum and a few phases near the Pumas' tryline, Bosch sent a long pass to Nkosi who ran in for his side's first try. Bosch hit the upright with the conversion.
Robert du Preez's side started to grow with confidence with ball in hand as the half went on and they were soon over the tryline again with another bit of magic.
Sharks captain Ruan Botha showed his pedigree with ball in hand when he burst through the Pumas defence and evaded a few defenders in the Pumas' 22 before passing to Jeremy Ward who went over for the try. Bosch stepped up to convert the score for a seven-point lead.
The Pumas were then given a boost four minutes before half-time when Sharks hooker Armand van der Merwe was yellow carded for cynical play near his own tryline.
The Sharks were then reduced to 13 men just before the break when Tyler Paul was yellow carded for a grass-cutter tackle while his side were camped in the 22.
Despite having a big numerical advantage, the Pumas squandered an opportunity to get points before half-time with the Durban side holding a seven-point lead at the break.
The home side started the second half like me possessed and they got themselves back level with the Sharks six minutes into the half when wing Jean-Paul Lewis was put into space inside the Sharks' 22 to run in for his side's second try, which Marais converted.
The Pumas then found themselves in front minutes later when centre and captain Hennie Skorbinski ran in for a try after some great work from teammate Chris Cloete. Marais added the extras with the conversion to give his side a seven-point lead.
The game restarted with a Pumas penalty after some foul play in the lead up to Skorbinski's try and Marais landed a 50-metre kick to extend his side's lead to 10 points.
Just when it looked like the Pumas were on course for a comfortable win, the Sharks hit back when replacement Wian Vosloo went over for over for a try after a powerful driving maul in the Pumas 22. Garth April converted the try to reduce the deficit to just three points.
The Sharks then silenced the home fans in the 76th minute when April magically put replacement Smith into space out wide to score the winning try.
The Pumas went one final attack in the dying minutes, but they failed to find in their attempt to find a winning score.
Man of the match: Lukhanyo Am was strong in defence for the Sharks, while Thembelani Bholi gave his all in a losing cause for the Pumas. However, the award goes to Pumas flank Chris Cloete for his physical and effective performance in open play.
Tries: Isbell, Lewis, Skorbinski
Cons: Marais 2
Pens: Marais 2
Tries: Nkosi, Ward, Vosloo, Smith
Cons: Bosch, April
Yellow cards: Armand van der Merwe (Sharks, 36 - cynical play, offside); Tyler Paul (Sharks, 40 - foul play, dangerous tackle)
Pumas: 15 Justin van Staden, 14 Jean-Paul Lewis, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Hennie Skorbinski (captain), 11 Ruwellyn Isbell, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Mark Pretorius, 1 De-Jay Terblanche.
Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 Brian Shabangu, 20 Theo Maré, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Devon Williams.
Sharks: 15 Garth April, 14 Tythan Adams, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Lukhanyo Am, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Jean Droste, 19 Wian Vosloo, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Marius Louw, 22 Rhyno Smith.
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Referees: Pieter Maritz, Stephan van Dyk
TMO: Johan Greeff