Planet Rugby

Sharks edge Pumas at the death!

22nd July 2011 20:05

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Fred Michalak Sharks Pumas

Match winner: Frederic Michalak

The Sharks were forced to come from behind to snatch a 23-22 Currie Cup victory over the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday.

French fly-half Fred Michalak was the hero for the Sharks, scoring 18 of their points, including the first try.

A blinding run from centre Marius Joubert in the dying minutes to set up loosehead prop Dale Chadwick's try saved the Sharks. The Frenchman's conversion - with four minutes left on the clock - saw the defending Currie Cup champions claim their second win in as many weeks in a nail-biting finish.

Last season the Pumas had recorded a 22-21 victory over the Blue Bulls at the same Mbombela Stadium, but this time their defences broke within sight of another upset win.

The first half evolved into a battle of the fly-halves: The Pumas took the early lead when Tiaan Marx slotted a penalty in the sixth minute, but Michalak levelled the scores three minutes later, setting the tone for the first half hour.

Each time the Pumas pulled three points clear through Marx, the Sharks drew level via Michalak, with the scores even at 9-9 after 30 minutes.

The Pumas were unable to capitalise on a few brief forays into the Sharks' half before the visitors surged forward.

The home team's defence worked hard to hold them off, but the defending champions eventually broke through when Michalak went over in the 32nd minute before converting his own try.

Three minutes later, however, the Pumas struck on the counter attack. Coenie van Wyk caught the Sharks defence napping, and after a solo effort down the right wing, dotted down to narrow the gap.

Marx converted to level the scores, and could have snatched back the lead for the hosts two minutes later but sent a long range penalty, booted from within his own half, sailing wide of the posts.

He made up for it in the dying seconds before the break, however, with a successful kick that gave the hosts a 19-16 advantage after the first period.

Sensing weakness, perhaps, the Pumas returned from the break with purpose and Marx almost immediately stretched the advantage with a penalty.

Marx missed for the second time in the match in the 54th minute, but the Pumas would have been confident of holding the lead as they kept the visitors at bay.

The Sharks, though leaving it late, managed to draw ahead again as Joubert broke down the right wing and offloaded to Chadwick inches before the line as the burly front rower went over for his try before Michalak added the extra two points.

The scorers:

For the Pumas:
Tries: van Wyk
Cons: Marx
Pens: Marx 5

For the Sharks:
Tries: Michalak, Chadwick
Cons: Michalak 2
Pens: Michalak 3

Pumas:15 MJ Mentz, 14 Deon Scholtz, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Pieter Engelbrecht, 11 Ashwin Scott, 10 Ricardo Croy, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Christo le Roux, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corne Steenkamp (c), 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Ashley Buys, 2 Pellow van der Westhuizen, 1 De-Jay Terblanche.
Replacements:16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Brett Nel, 18 Eduan Van Der Walt, 19 RW Kember, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Tiaan Marx, 22 Carl Bezuidenhout.

Sharks:15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Mark Richards, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick
Replacements:16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Julian Redelinghuys/Eugene van Staden, 18 Jan Andre Marais, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Jacobus Reinach, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Sibusiso Sithole.

Referee: Mark Lawrence

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