Sharks book play-off spot with scrappy win
MATCH REPORT: The Sharks booked their place in the Super Rugby play-offs with a scrappy 40-29 win over the Sunwolves in Durban on Friday.
Although the match produced 10 tries - some of them through sublime, skilful play - it was an error-strewn affair.
The Sharks were well below the standards that would strike fear into the hearts of any opposition in the quarterfinals.
The Sunwolves offered sporadic resistance throughout the match, but it was more the Sharks' own sloppy play that allowed the visitors to stay in the game.
The Sharks started on a high note, with Coenie Oosthuizen diving over in the third minute.
Three minutes later they doubled the score when Lwazi Mvovo beat the opposition for pace.
However, the Sunwolves burst action and came back with a try of their own - with a well-created line-out move that left the Sharks' defence flat-footed.
JP Pietersen, playing in his final game at Kings Park, was next to score - Rhyno Smith sparking the move and Odwa Ndungane providing the final pass.
In their final match of the competition, the Sunwolves were always going to go out with a bang rather than a whimper, but they were finding the going tough against an equally fired up home side with plenty more to play for.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first - with an Andre Esterhuizen try in the corner getting the ball rolling.
However, as was the case before the break, the Sharks let them back into the game - two tries and a penalty later the gap had closed to 22-28, with a quarter of the game remaining.
Garth April gave the home team some much-needed breathing space - putting on display his skill and pace to score the home team's fifth try.
The 11 point margin was extended to 16 when Curwin Bosch ran onto the perfect chip-and-chase and the result was clearly sewn up.
With time almost up on the clock the Sunwolves came back again with a fourth try to deny the Sharks a try-scoring bonus point.
Man of the match: Mifiposeti Paea and Derek Carpenter asked some questions of the Sharks defence, while Edward Quirk and Liaki Moli were the visitors' most productive forwards. Andre Esterhuizen was powerful with ball in hand, JP Pietersen scored a nice try to mark his last home game for the Sharks and Philip van der Walt was a firebrand up front. However, our award goes Sharks flank Keegan Daniel for his energetic performance.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Oosthuizen, Mvovo, Pietersen, Esterhuizen, April, Bosch
Cons: April 5
For the Sunwolves:
Tries: Shigeno, Paea 2, Lemalu
Cons: Tamura 3
Sharks: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen (captain), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lubabalo Mtembu, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch/Pat Lambie, 23 Heimar Williams.
Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Hajime Yamashita, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Mifiposeti Paea, 11 Yasutaka Sasakura, 10 Yu Tamura (captain), 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Edward Quirk, 7 Taiyo Ando, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Faatiga Lemalu, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2 Takeshi Kizu, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Futoshi Mori, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Naohiro Kotaki, 20 Yoshiya Hosoda, 21 Yuki Yatomi, 22 Ryohei Yamanaka, 23 Kentaro Kodama.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Archie Sehlako (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)