The Sharks got their Super Rugby campaign off to a winning start on Saturday with a hard-fought 24-9 win over the Cheetahs.
The Sharks got their Super Rugby campaign off to a winning start on Saturday with a hard-fought 24-9 win over the Cheetahs in Durban.
The Sharks suffered an early blow with captain John Smit pulling out at the last minute, but had an able replacement in the form of the “Beeeeeeeeast!”.
It wasn't the most entertaining of spectacles with the rain and wind cancelling out any hopes the soaked King Park crowd may of had of watching some running rugby that the two sides are famous for.
Instead, it was a battle of the boot under grey skies with the forwards slugging it out on the heavy surface beneath.
The wet weather meant a tighter contest with play restricted to up-and-unders and box kicks from the respective half-back combinations in an attempt to force mistakes on the back three with the slippery ball.
The Sharks got off to the best start possible after a high ball on Hennie Daniller was dropped by the Cheetahs full-back close to his tryline. The Sharks pounced on the loose ball, got a drive on and mauled their way over the line with veteran flanker Jacques Botes coming up with the spoils. Five points in less than three minutes.
Patrick Lambie's conversion attempt got blown away by the howling wind, but made up for it with a penalty shot six minutes later that glided between the posts.
Cheetahs fly-half Naas Olivier came close to putting the visitors on the board but his attempted drop-kick drifted narrowly wide in the 18th minute.
Between then and the next score 16 minutes later, the hosts continued to dominate possession. But, with heavy rain sweeping over the ground, both sides found difficulty in controlling the ball.
Olivier finally put his side on the board shortly before half-time, converting a penalty after the home side were penalised at the breakdown.
There was still time for Stefan Terblanche to waste two long-range attempts on goal as the Sharks went into the break 8-3 ahead.
Straight after the restart, Keegan Daniel was penalised for tackling a man without the ball, allowing Olivier to cut the gap to two.
But Lambie struck right back, landing back-to-back penalties to hand the initiative back to the home side.
Another quiet passage of play followed, but the men from Bloemfontein refused to give in as Olivier landed another three-pointer to cut the gap to five.
However, any hopes of a shock victory were extinguished 12 minutes from the end when another powerful maul by the Sharks pack enabled Bismarck du Plessis to score.
Lambie adding the extras and replacement Jacques-Louis Potgieter kicked a penalty to seal a deserved win.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Botes, B du Plessis
Pens: Lambie 3, Potgieter
For the Cheetahs:
Pens: Olivier 3
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan TerblanchÃ© (captain), 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Adrian Jacobs.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Philip Burger, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Ryno Benjamin, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Kabamba Floors, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Kobus Calldo, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Riaan Viljoen.
Referee: Craig Joubert