The Cell C Sharks remain unbeaten in the Carling Currie Cup after earning a deserved 24-10 victory over the Airlink Pumas at Mbombela Stadium in a real arm-wrestle of a clash on Friday evening.
It was a tightly-contested match, but it was the Pumas’ indiscipline that they will know cost them any hope of success as they gave a good account of themselves but couldn’t match the visitors’ physicality, particularly on defence.
They were punished by the Cell C Sharks at the scrums and by the referee for their many indiscretions – conceding 15 penalties to five – and an impeccable kicking display from Boeta Chamberlain with a perfect record of eight from eight ensured a hard won victory.
It was a highly energetic start from the Cell C Sharks, placing emphasis on pressuring the home side, with a dominant scrum and breakdown success hurting the Pumas.
When the home side were penalised for illegally stopping a strong and effective rolling maul, Boeta Chamberlain was handed the duty of converting the three-pointer inside the opening 10 minutes to get the scoreboard moving.
Five minutes later, Chamberlain doubled the score with a second penalty, the plan clearly to take points when they were on offer, given how tough opposition sides have found the going in Mbombela. The Cell C Sharks flyhalf added a third penalty to push the lead to 9-nil with the first quarter of the game not yet over.
Chamberlain made it four from four when he extended his team’s lead to 12-0 with the Pumas continuing to give away penalties regularly, particularly at scrum time where the Cell C Sharks pack were relentless and merciless at the set-piece.
The Pumas finally got themselves on the scoreboard in the 35th minute with their first penalty and two minutes later scored the opening try of the game, taking the ball up from their own goal-line, turning defence into attack and doing well to keep the ball alive. The touchline conversion turned it into a two point game with half-time looming.
The home side managed to kill time on the clock to avoid any further damage on the scoreboard with the Cell C Sharks leading 12-10 when the two sides went into the half-time break.
Chamberlain drew first blood in the second half with his fifth successful penalty after the Pumas infringed on defence, but try as they may, and they were the more assertive side, the Cell C Sharks couldn’t get another score until the game hit the final 10 minutes.
Chamberlain’s sixth penalty was an important one as it extended the lead beyond a single try to put some breathing space between the visitors and their hosts and a seventh penalty with three minutes remaining put the final nail in the home side’s coffin.
There was one last score for the flyhalf whose eighth penalty sailed through the posts on the stroke of full-time to register their fourth straight victory in the competition to remain top of the log.