Sharks extend unbeaten run
The Sharks, despite four tries from Bjorn Basson, recorded their seventh consecutive victory as they downed the GWK Griquas 48-30 (half-time 25-10) in their Absa Currie Cup match at Absa Stadium in Durban on Friday.
The home side, who began the match atop the Currie Cup standings, lost their first game of the season to the self-same Griquas but gained a measure of revenge as flyhalf Pat Lambie contributed 23 points courtesy of five penalties and four conversions.
However, the star of the match was Basson, whose four tries saw the wing set a new Griquas’ Currie Cup season record for tries scored.
Basson took his season’s tally to 13 eclipsing the previous best of 11 held by Robert Markram.
Basson has been in wonderful form lately and his four tries comes a match after he scored a hat-trick against the Bulls.
The Sharks, as has been their wont this season, employed a high-tempo game plan from the opening minutes in an attempt to run their opponents off their feet.
The home side opened the scoring thanks to a Lambie penalty before a series of long-range forays into the Griquas’ half stretched the visitors defence.
In the 10th minute a sublime piece of skill from Lambie saw the game’s opening try after the flyhalf took the ball from a scrum on Griquas’ 10-metre line.
Lambie sold a superb dummy before a body swerve saw the blonde pivot burst through the opposition’s backline.
Lambie then sent a long pass out to his centre Stefan Terblanche with the veteran rounding the defence to score under the posts.
The home side were playing a game very similar to the current All Blacks and a period of sustained pressure, which saw scrumhalf Charl McLeod and Lambie feature prominently, resulted in the second try of match when Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira crashed over from close range.
The converted try saw the Sharks race to a 17-0 lead after 19 minutes but the visitors were starting to get to grips with the pace of the match and, in the 27th minute, Basson ripped a ball out of the Sharks’ clutches at the breakdown before setting off on a 40-metre run to score.
The Sharks struck back almost immediately as a sweeping backline move saw wing Odwa Ndungane go over in the right-hand corner.
Griquas’ fullback Riaan Viljoen, with a massive 52-metre effort, and Lambie then traded penalties as the Sharks went to the break holding a comfortable 15-point lead.
Both teams enjoyed a fruitful start to the second half with Lambie, twice, and Griquas’ flyhalf Naas Olivier succeeding with early penalty attempts.
Twelve minutes into the half Basson showed his deadly finishing ability as he scooped up a loose ball on the Sharks’ 10-metre line before galloping away to score.
Five minutes later the Sharks had their bonus point for four tries when fullback Monty Dumond rounded off a backline move but Griquas hit back when Basson collected a cross kick before falling over the Sharks’ tryline to score.
Basson was clearly enjoying himself and, with the visitors ending the match as the stronger of the two sides, the elegant winger chased through a grubber to score in the left-hand corner.
With seven minutes left to play the home side were clinging to a slightly tenuous 38-30 lead but a penalty from Lambie and a try after the hooter from replacement hooker Craig Burden secured the result.
The Sharks – Tries: Stefan Terblanche, Tendai Mtawarira’ Odwa Ndungane, Monty Dumond, Craig Burden; Conversions: Patrick Lambie (4); Penalties: Lambie (5).
GWK Griquas – Tries: Bjorn Basson (4); Conversions: Naas Olivier (2); Penalties: Riaan Viljoen, Olivier.