Griquas show class, down Sharks
The GWK Griquas showed that they would be a force to be reckoned with in this year’s Absa Currie Cup Premier Division as they downed the Sharks 40-34 (halftime 8-22) at GWK Park in Kimberley on Saturday.
The home side turned in a committed second-half performance that saw them overturn a 14-point deficit at half time as they ran in five tries to claim a bonus-point victory.
The highpoint of the Griquas’ effort came in a 12-minute period in the second stanza that saw them run in 18 unanswered points to take a comfortable 40-27 lead with nine minutes of the match left.
Flank Wesley Wilkins was deservedly named man of the match and his second half try was just reward for an immense performance that saw Wilkins feature prominently of both defence and attack.
However, it would be unfair to single out a single Griquas’ player as the entire match 22 could be proud of their effort.
The first half was a stop-start affair thanks in main to the 10 penalties and free kicks that the two sides conceded in the first 30 minutes.
The hosts opened the scoring in the sixth minute when flyhalf Naas Olivier slotted a penalty but 12 minutes later the Sharks took the lead when outside centre Stefan Terblanche scooped up a loose ball on the Griquas’ 22-metre line.
Terblanche expertly drew the last defender before feeding left wing Lwazi Mvovo, who streaked over untouched for the first try of the match.
The visitors’ handling had let them down in the opening exchanges but they were slowly finding their rhythm and they added to their lead in the 23rd minute after a period of sustained pressure.
The Griquas’ conceded a free kick at a scrum five-metres from their line and Sharks’ eighthman Keegan Daniel took a quick tap before feeding flyhalf Steve Meyer who flopped over the line.
The visitors, who played with a strong wind at their backs in the first half, had opened up a 12-3 lead.
However, with just under 10 minutes left in the half, the hosts finally breached the Sharks’ defence when hooker Ryno Barnes burst through a maul five metres from the visitors' tryline before rumbling over for an unconverted try.
Sharks’ scrumhalf Rory Kockott succeeded with a penalty in the 34th minute before flank Michael Rhodes, who carried the ball strongly all day, bulldozed his way over the Griquas’ line to push the Sharks into a 22-8 lead with three minutes left in the half.
Despite their strong showing in the first stanza the half ended badly for the Sharks when flank Jacques Botes was yellow-carded for punching shortly before the break.
The Griquas took full advantage of their numerical advantage at the start of the second half as a searing midfield break from Wilkins resulted in loosehead prop Steph Roberts diving over to score from a ruck.
After 14 minutes of the half the home side were level thanks to a superb try after left wing Bjorn Basson took full advantage of turnover ball to set off from his own 22-metre line to outstrip the Sharks’ cover defence before Olivier converted to make the score 22-22.
Three minutes later the Sharks regained the lead courtesy of Mvovo’s second try.
But the Griquas were not to be denied and, as the match entered the final quarter, the home side went on the rampage.
Olivier slotted two penalties before Wilkins scored from close range and Basson chased through his own kick ahead to score his second try of the contest.
The visitors managed to grab a consolation try through prop Pat Cilliers who went over with five minutes left in the match.
Cilliers’s try meant that the Sharks could take some comfort as they picked up two bonus points for scoring four tries and losing by less than seven points.
GWK Griquas - Tries: Bjorn Basson (2), Ryno Barnes, Steph Roberts, Wesley Wilkins; Conversions: Naas Olivier (3); Penalties: Olivier (3).
The Sharks - Tries: Lwazi Mvovo (2), Steve Meyer, Michael Rhodes, Pat Cilliers; Conversions: Rory Kockott (2), Monty Dumond; Penalty: Kockott.