The Cell C Sharks defeated the visiting Pumas 28-12 at a wet Jonsson KINGS PARK on Friday evening and remain undefeated at the halfway point of this year’s Currie Cup, bagging a third successive bonus point victory in the competition.
All credit must go to the Pumas for putting in such a spirited effort. By half-time there was no clear-cut leader in the game but a strong second half performance saw us wrestle control back before emerging comfortable four try to two winners.
Losing Lwazi Mvovo in the second minute of the game to a concussion did not help our cause at all and neither side would have been particularly pleased with an opening 10 minutes characterised by early game jitters and mistakes under pressure.
The first five minutes was spent in the Pumas half and the second five in ours, but neither side was able to capitalise on territorial advantage.
However, both teams had impressed with the pressure they exerted and it was the Cell C Sharks, with a stronger scrum, who turned pressure into points first, a scrum penalty kicked to touch and from the lineout, the ball was recycled well, Robert du Preez grubbered the ball through a big hole in the defence and Jeremy Ward ran on to the loose ball for the first try in the 20th minute.
It took 15 minutes of the game being played all over the field before the next score, this time the Pumas taking confidence from a strong driving maul before the ball was released to the backs for a score in the corner. The touchline conversion hit the upright and stayed out, allowing the Cell C Sharks to hang on to a narrow, 7-5 lead with the first half winding down.
But the visitors, with their tails up, stole possession on the halfway line, kicked the ball ahead and the bounce eluded the defence for a second try. The successful conversion took the Pumas into a 12-7 lead at half-time.
There was a spring in the Cell C Sharks’ step as they came out in the second half with great energy and importantly good accuracy to take the ball through 13 phases which proved lucky as Johan Deysel took the final pass in a team try. The successful conversion took us back into the lead, albeit just two points with nearly half an hour’s play remaining.
It would prove decisive and the Pumas would not score again.
Not five minutes later fortune favoured the brave as Robert du Preez sent the perfect cross kick into limited space, but Aphalele Fassi ran onto the ball and sprinted to the corner for our third try. Du Preez’s kicking was again on song as he converted from the touchline for a 21-12 lead.
Importantly we had put some breathing space between ourselves and the Pumas into the scoreboard and then there was more a few minutes later as Akker van der Merwe effected a good steal on the ground, the ball was kicked forward and Curwin Bosch was like a greyhound as he chased it down for the bonus point try. Du Preez continued with his 100% kicking record to send us into a 16 point lead with the final quarter remaining.
The Pumas bravely pushed hard in those final few minutes, desperate for another score, but they would fid the going too tough, the opposition too great.
Cell C Sharks captain Chiliboy Ralepelle admitted that it was a game of two halves, but fortunately his team came right in the second half.
“The first half wasn’t tidy but we rectified our mistakes in the second half and came away with the bonus point win. We weren’t up to our standards in the first half but knew we had to consolidate and improve accuracy in the second half which we did.”