The Cell C Sharks hosted the Reds from Brisbane in our last home game before heading off to Australia and New Zealand for our overseas tour, sadly going down 21-14 in a pulsating Vodacom Super Rugby clash on Friday.
There were some exciting moments interspersed with frustrations at Jonsson KINGS PARK in this match where the Reds set themselves up well, but had to fight hard to contain a resurgent Cell C Sharks side who looked to equalise with a big effort in the closing stages of the game.
An early seven pointer to the Reds put the visitors in front and then after sustaining pressure from the Cell C Sharks who had a good build-up to put us in a position of danger, the visitors managed to turn the ball around, make a strong break through the middle and score to take them into a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.
The Reds had conceded a number of penalties which we had bravely kicked to touch instead of at posts, seeking greater rewards. The ploy finally paid dividends with a strong driving maul from the attacking lineout before Kerron van Vuuren, the man in possession at the back, dotted down, with Robert du Preez converting.
There appeared to be a change in fortunes as the Reds now found themselves under pressure and forced to defend and there was a near opportunity when Andre Esterhuizen and Sbu Nkosi, who always looked industrious and dangerous with the ball, combined beautifully off turnover ball secured by Hyron Andrews, but sadly the Reds were able to hold out as the game approached half-time.
The Reds managed to hang on to their seven point lead as the first half wound down to its conclusion, going into the break leading 14-7.
The third quarter was filled with frustrations for both sides, neither able to make good on their possession and it was the Reds who finally managed to close out a chance as the game approached the final 20 minutes with a well-crafted, converted try to take them into a 21-7 lead.
With three minutes of the game remaining, the Cell C Sharks managed to get over the tryline following a long period of dominance and territorial advantage, but the ball was held up over the line.
From the resulting scrum, eighthman Dan du Preez who had been strong all game, managed to twist and force his way over for the second try which Curwin Bosch did well to convert from out wide to reduce the deficit to seven points.
There was big drama at the final kick-off as the Reds contested at the receipt, illegally, conceding a penalty with time up on the clock. The ball was sent into the Reds half and the Cell C Sharks attacked with venom, looking for the equalising score, But despite taking the ball through 12 phases and almost three minutes into extra time, the Reds managed a turnover to wrestle the win.