Planet Rugby

Sharks close in on SA leaders

26th May 2012 15:14

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Fred Michalak scoring for the Sharks on his back

First-half try: Fred Michalak

The Sharks kept their play-off hopes very much alive after recording a 25-20 victory over conference rivals the Stormers at Kings Park on Saturday.

The men from Durban had built a decent 25-6 lead only moments after the break but were then made to sweat as the Capetonians launched a spirited fightback, sparked by Gio Aplon's brace.

However, South Africa's current third-ranked franchise managed to weather their visitors' late charge to claim a crucial win for their campaign.

Victory leaves the in-form Sharks five points off the Stormers and only three from the second-placed Bulls in their conference as Super Rugby nears its month-long break for the June internationals.

After a tense opening to the game, Peter Grant kicked the visitors in front in the ninth minute when Lwazi Mvovo was caught offside, with Patrick Lambie replying instantly after the Stormers were penalised at the ruck.

An error from tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis, who failed to roll away, allowed fly-half Grant another shot at goal that was sent over.

The Sharks scored the opening try in the seventeenth minute when Frederic Michalak's initial up-and-under caused problems in the visiting defence, with a quick tap-and-go penalty by Charl McLeod leading to the Frenchman collecting and dotting down courtesy of some good hand work on the line.

Lambie converted and added a penalty just before the half-hour mark to take the lead out to seven for the hosts, before that was stretched to fourteen four minutes before the break.

John Plumtree's men turned over a scrum in the build-up to their second try, before some quick ball was followed by skipper Keegan Daniel spotting a gap and making his way over.

The hosts continued to dominate after the restart with Mvovo crossing on the left for his seventh try of the season after taking a slick pass by Marcell Coetzee, although a tough conversion attempt was this time squandered by Lambie.

But the visitors scored their first try in the 53rd minute when Michalak's loose pass led to Aplon collecting and the Springbok back darted almost 70 metres to score.

The visitors got their reward with seven minutes to play when Aplon danced his way through a non-existent defence by running 35 metres untouched to score under the post. Grant converted the try, but the Sharks held on for a key victory in the South African conference.

The scorers:

For Sharks:
Tries: Michalak, Daniel, Mvovo
Con: Lambie 2
Pen: Lambie 2

For Stormers:
Try: Aplon 2
Con: Grant 2
Pen: Grant 2

Sharks: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (capt), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Odwa Ndungane, 22 Louis Ludik.

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (capt), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Don Armand, 20 Nick Fenton-Wells, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Burton Francis.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

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