Kok Treble Seals Victory

The Hollywoodbets Sharks survived a late scare before running out deserved 32-27 victors over Scarlets in a pulsating Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash on Friday evening.

It was edge of the seat action from start to finish and at times there was no clear victor, although the Hollywoodbets Sharks were able to dominate important parts of the game and despite a concerted effort from the Welsh, it was the Durban side who were able to deliver a winning performance under pressure.

The home team struck an early blow with a penalty in the opening few minutes, but the Hollywoodbets Sharks hit back almost immediately, a beautiful flowing movement from the backline as they hit the line at pace and spread the ball wide to Werner Kok who sprinted over to score on the occasion of his 50th game.

Siya Masuku converted from out wide for a 7-3 lead before a second penalty for Scarlets cut the deficit to one point inside the first 10 minutes, only for Masuku to kick his first penalty to take the Hollywoodbets Sharks back into a four-point lead.

Both sides were playing the game at a high pace and Scarlets were next to score, exploiting space and keeping the ball alive before some deft footwork from their hooker saw them over for their first try and together with the conversion took a 13-10 lead at the closure of the first quarter.

For much of the second quarter, the game lost shape, but one constant was the Hollywoodbets Sharks’ scrummaging, earning penalties at will at the set-piece as they dominated the Welsh pack and consistently got the better of their opponents.

Just before half-time, another scrum penalty was kicked to touch and a strong maul took the forwards close to the tryline before a series of pick and drives was rewarded,  Vincent Koch powering his way over for his team’s second try, Masuku converting to give his team a 17-13 lead before the teams headed for the changerooms moments later.

A positive start to the second half thanks to some decisive play from the Hollywoodbets Sharks was rewarded with a penalty five minutes in to extend their lead to 20-13 but despite not having things going their way, Scarlets produced another high tempo attack that resulted in a TMO-referred and converted try in the 50th minute to level matters at 20 points apiece.

The see-sawing nature of the scoring continued and five minutes later Werner Kok went over for his second try and the team’s third, Scarlets having conceded four penalties in a row and conceding field position in the process before the forwards smashed the ball up and then Masuku sent a pinpoint cross-field kick out wide and then converted for a 27-20 lead.

The scrum dominance continued when the replacements came on and the Hollywoodbets Sharks used their advantage productively, keeping Scarlets locked deep in their half and forced to spend long periods of the final quarter defending.

With five minutes remaining, Scarlets were in a mountain of trouble, conceding penalties on their line and doing everything possible to absorb the pressure, before Masuku’s accurate boot sent the ball to Werner Kok to score his hattrick and vitally at this stage, push the Hollywoodbets Sharks into a two score lead, 32-20.

There was drama to close out the game as Scarlets snatched up a loose ball to score a minute later and with the successful conversion, it was a five-point game. Their tails were up and suddenly they were back in the game and threatening an unlikely reverse, only to fail in their final push through some determined defence from the Hollywoodbets Sharks, and it was the Durban side who prevailed.