Sharks edge past EP Kings

Date published: August 15 2015

The Sharks beat the Eastern Province Kings 33-25 in an eight-try Currie Cup thriller at Kings Park on Saturday.

The teams scored four tries apiece in a ding-dong battle that would hang in the balance until deep into the final quarter.

The result lifts the Sharks up to fourth in the Currie Cup standings as they bounce back from last week's disappointment in Nelspruit. The Kings meanwhile fully deserve their bonus point. 

The Sharks led 18-5 midway through the first half but an incredible comeback saw the Kings move ahead early in the second period.

George Whitehead's try gave the visitors a surprise early lead but the Sharks fired back with two quick scores of their own, first from winger Andre Esterhuizen before he was followed over by fly-half Lionel Cronje.

Joe Pietersen continued to add points off the tee with a conversion and second penalty to stretch the lead to 18-5.

Neither side was able to add to their tally until just before half-time, when the Sharks were sent down to 14 men after a yellow card for Philip van der Walt.

The Kings capitalised with a try through their impressive number eight Tim Agaba to make it 18-10 to the hosts at half-time.

It was more of the same for the visitors after the interval as they benefited from having the extra man with two more tries.

Steven Sykes crashed over and was followed onto the scoresheet three minutes later by scrum-half Enrico Acker to secure a bonus-point try and put the Kings into the lead at 22-18.

Daniel du Preez put the Sharks back ahead with the home side's third try but Whitehead immediately hit back with a penalty to make it 25-23.

A third Pietersen penalty meant the lead changed hands once again before the home side secured the four-try bonus point with what proved to be the winning score as replacement centre Paul Jordaan raced down the touchline, beat Scott van Breda with a neat step and dived into the corner.

Pietersen's conversion gave the hosts an eight-point lead, which they held until the end.

The scorers:

For Natal Sharks:

Tries: Esterhuizen, Cronje, Du Preez, Jordaan

Cons: Pietersen 2

Pens: Pietersen 3

Yellow Card: Van der Walt

For EP Kings:

Tries: G Whitehead, Agaba, Sykes, Acker

Con: G Whitehead

Pen: G Whitehead

Natal Sharks: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Wandile Mjekevu, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Andre Esterhuizen, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Daniel du Preez, 6 Jean Deysel, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Monde Hadebe, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 18 David McDuling, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Paul Jordaan, 22 SP Marais.

EP Kings: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Luther Obi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Karlo Aspeling

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Tahla Ntshakaza 
TMO: Christie du Preez