The Sharks survived a late TMO referral to snatch a 19-16 Currie Cup win over the Free State Cheetahs at Kings Park on Saturday.
The Sharks survived a last-minute TMO referral to snatch a 19-16 Currie Cup win over the Free State Cheetahs at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
A 77th-minute penalty put the Sharks ahead for the first time but the home team were saved when the television official could “find no conclusive evidence” of what would have been a match-winning try for the Cheetahs at the death.
The teams scored a try apiece in a closely-fought battle. The Cheetahs led 13-3 at the interval thanks to a wonderful try from full-back Clayton Blommetjies and eight points from the boot of fly-half Willie du Plessis.
The Sharks gained the upper hand in the second half though and former Springbok wing Tonderai Chavhanga touched down late on to level the scores before Fred Zeilinga kicked what proved to be the winning long-range penalty.
The Free Staters had the better of the possession stats in the first half as the Sharks conspired to hand the initiative to their visitors via no less than 10 handling errors before half time.
The second half was a dire affair as long periods of aerial ping-pong left fans yawning before a tense finish had everyone on the edge of their seats.
The first quarter ended scoreless as the match got off to a sedate start, but the Cheetahs raced to a 13-0 lead in the space of six minutes.
Du Plessis landed two penalties as the Sharks were pinged for ruck infringements before Blommetjies scored a gem of a try.
Sarel Pretorius was at the origin of the first five-pointer, sniping around the side of ruck to burst clear up centre field. Blommetjies was up in support and chipped over his opposite number SP Marais before winning the race to the end-zone.
Du Plessis added the conversion before Sharks fly-half Fred Zeilinga pulled three points back with his team's first penalty.
Zeilinga was on target again to start the second half but Du Plessis replied in kind to leave the Sharks trailing by ten points going into the final half-hour.
Punting for territory became the name of the game as a battle of kick-tennis ensued.
The Cheetahs scrum conceded three points to Zeilinga's boot to move the Sharks within range.
Chavhanga raced home for the Sharks' only try, bursting through a tackle after latching onto Conrad Hoffmann's pass.
Zeilinga added the conversion to draw the scores level at 16-all before landing a penalty from over 40m to put the hosts in front.
There would be late drama as Kevin Stevens stretched an arm out to touch down for what seemed a great try but TMO Jason Jaftha – after looking at various angles – decided that he had planted the ball just short before losing control.
Pens: Zeilinga 4
For Free State Cheetahs:
Cons: Du Plessis
Pens: Du Plessis 3
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S'bura Sithole 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Francois Kleinhans, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies / Johan Meyer, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Heimar Williams, 22 Lionel Cronje
FS Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Neill Claassen, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Rudolph Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (capt), 1 Kevin Stevens.
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 George Marich, 18 Henco Venter, 19 Vincent Jobo, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 22 JP du Plessis.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Referees: Marius Jonker, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Jason Jaftha