Sharks beat Stormers in Durban thriller
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Sharks cemented their place in the play-off zone with a 22-10 win over the Stormers in a thrilling encounter in Durban on Saturday.
The win sees the Sharks in sixth place, with 42 points, 12 clear of the Stormers - who sit in third place, courtesy of the ridiculous conference system.
When heart, brain and brawn are in sync, perfection is possible. Today in Durban, the Sharks had that synchronisation and it showed above all in their match-winning defence. And that defence applied also to their well-planned counter to the Stormers' line-out.
Get beaten in the line-outs - through being outthought as well as outjumped - and you are in trouble. Miss tackles when they don't , and you are in big trouble and that trouble grows whenever your kicking is meaningless. And when you have chances you must take them. Scoring in a tight match on a rainy day does not come often or cheaply.
The Sharks won three of the Stormers' line-outs. The Stormers had three five-metre line-outs and scored from none of them, for the Sharks had their measure. The Sharks scored from a line-out but that was 40 metres from the Stormers' goal-line and it took just three passes to effect.
But it was the gritty, adamantine defence that won it for them, especially in the second half when the Stormers had the better of the climate and the possession. Their possession was rated at 75% at one stage and for all that they scored just 10 points in 40 minutes. That was more because of the Sharks' virtues than through any fault of their own.
In summary the Sharks deserved to win a tense, intriguing match.
The scrums started badly. The first one was reset three times and then resolved with a penalty against Oliver Kebble, which Garth April goaled. 3-0 after 6 minutes.
The Sharks charged down an attempted box kick by Jano Vermaak and attacked. They went right, left, right and left again where Johan Deysel went on a powerful diagonal and scored. 8-0 after 11 minutes. It was the first of only three tries in the match.
The second came when the Stormers threw in to a line-out in their own 22. Pieter-Steph du Toit went up to catch the ball, but when he came to earth he held the ball above his head where the Sharks accpted the gift. They attacked far right and back left. Kebble was penalised at a tackle some eight metres from the Stormers' line. Jaco Reinach tapped and charged. Nizaam Carr tackled him within 10 metres and the referee played advantage. Thomas du Toit got the ball and charged to the line. He was stopped just short but lock Stephan Lewies was on hand to dab the ball over the line for a try which April converted. 15-0 after 36 minutes.
The Stormers had a line-out eight metres from the Sharks' line and did a peel around the front, which the Sharks were waiting for.
Half-time came with the score 15-0 to the Sharks who were well in control.
The Stormers showed their intent at the start of the second half when the Sharks went offside and Cheslin Kolbe tapped and ran in his mazy way.
When the Sharks were penalised at a tackle, SP Marais goaled. 15-3 after 44 minutes.
The Stormers kept attacking at every chance but the Sharks said 'No pasarán' - they will not get through.
Eventually Siya Kolisi made headway and the Sharks were penalised - They were penalised nine times in the second half - and Jano Vermaak tapped. and charged right to the line. He was stopped but Marais was on hand to score the try, a carbon copy of Lewies's in the first half. Marais converted. 15-10 after 57 minutes.
Momentum was with the Stormers', but then came the try of the match, a brilliant try of exquisite simplicity.
The Sharks threw in to a line-out near the Stormers' 10-metre line on the Sharks' left. Lewies rose up to catch the ball and from the top he threw the ball down to Reinach. Left wing, 20-year-old Sibusiso Nkosi, came racing round to take a pass on Reinach's right and he cut straight through the Stormers' "defence", straight past Ramone Samuels and on through empty acres to the Stormers' goal posts where he ended with a swanky dive. 22-10 after 63 minutes.
The Stormers' momentum was shattered. They had two penalty-fuelled five-metre line-outs without looking like scoring. They had a penalty and kicked it dead. Leyds and Kolbe tried hard. Seabelo Senatla came on and was busy but not threatening, Notshe tapped a penalty and charged. Etzebeth was close as the siren sounded, Kolisi was close and Alister Vermaak closer. The Stormers actually got over the line but were held up. And so the final whistle sounded, to the joy of the Sharks players and the small contingent of spectators who braved the rain.
Man of the Match: There are several Sharks whom one could choose, from Lwazi Mvovo to Thomas du Toit, perhaps Jean-Luc du Preez and Philip van der Walt more than others. But our choice falls on Sibusiso Nkosi not just for the match's stellar moment - that try - but also for his energy and his work on defence.
* The Sharks lost a Springbok and a Springbok prospect. Early in the match Chiliboy Ralepelle left the field, to be replaced by Franco Marais. Then Lukhanyo Am tackled a charging Eben Etzebeth and went off for a concussion test. He stayed off with a suspected crack to a cheekbone. If it were true, it would be horrible for a fast developing player just recently invited to the Springbok Test group.
* The win sees the Sharks in sixth place, with 42 points, 12 clear of the Stormers - who sit in third place, courtesy of the ridiculous conference system.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Deysel, Lewies, Nkosi
Cons: April 2
For the Stormers:
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Jacobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Jacobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt (captain), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Lubabalo Mtembu, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Odwa Ndungane.
Stormers: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi (captain), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Alister Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Seabelo Senatla.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Archie Sehlako (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
* Pictures: Wayne Seagreen Photography