Fred Michalak kicked all of his side's points, including three drop goals, as the Sharks edged Western Province 21-19 on Friday.
Frederic Michalak kicked all of his side's points, including three drop goals, as the Sharks edged Western Province 21-19 in their Currie Cup clash at a very wet Newlands on Friday.
A game played in horrendous conditions turned into a true battle of the boot as Michalak and his opposite number, Western Province youngster Demetri Catrakilis, traded three-pointers.
WP scored the game's only try through prop Brok Harris, but ultimately it was the visitors' pack that set up victory for their team, ruling the tight phases and setting up Michalak, who put on a masterful kicking display.
The Frenchman has been the star for the defending champions this season and Friday was no different as he bisected the uprights whenever his pack put him within range – whether it was from the kicking tee or with drop goals.
It was a tightly-fought battle from beginning to end. The Sharks held a 9-3 lead at half-time, but fell behind when Catrakilis landed his third penalty in the 68th minute to put WP ahead for the first time and set up a nail-biting finish.
The Sharks responded however and when able to drive their way deep into opposition territory to allow Michalak to kick the winning penalty with just three minutes left on the clock.
Province dominated territorially throughout the contest, but could not find a way through the Sharks' impressive defensive line.
The French fly-half scored the first points of the match as the home side were penalised for playing the ball in a ruck near their tryline early on. Province pivot Catrakilis eventually levelled the scores in the 30th minute with superbly taken drop-goal.
A pattern of failure as they approached the try-line proved to be the trademark of Province's game.
After an initial break by Sharks skipper Keegan Daniel that took the men from Durban away from their 22 where Province had set up camp, Michalak slotted his second penalty before successfully kicking a drop-goal two minutes before halftime.
Leading 9-3 at the break, the Sharks started taking better care of possession although only Michalak's boot proved to be the difference between the sides as he nailed two more dropgoals that gave the Sharks a 15-3 lead.
As was the case in the first half, Province showed great character to bounce back when it looked like the Sharks would build a healthy lead.Their tremendous comeback started when prop Brok Harris scored the only try of the match.
Catrakilis confirmed that his team would not give up without a fight by slotting two penalties in short succession.
Michalak would, however, have the final say with his fourth penalty conversion.
For Western Province:
Pens: Catrakilis 3
Pens: Michalak 4
Drops: Michalak 3
Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick KÃ¶ster, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie (c), 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Adriaan Fondse, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Berton Klaasen, 22 Marcel Brache.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Patrick Lambie, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Eugene van Staden, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jan Andre Marais, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Marius Joubert.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe