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Rugby | Vodacom Cup

Prinsloo leads Sharks XV to victory

Gouws Prinsloo scored 31 points as the Sharks XV beat the Toyota Free State XV 51-38 (half-time 25-17) in an entertaining Vodacom Cup match at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Prinsloo scored a try and kicked six penalties and four conversions in a thrilling game that saw the two teams combine to score 10 tries between them.

Both teams’ willingness to run the ball at almost every opportunity meant that the match resembled a game of 7s at times but the handling from both teams was outstanding with just 12 handling errors in the entire contest.

The visitors made a stunning start to the match as they raced into a 10-0 lead after just six minutes thanks to a penalty from Prinsloo and a try from right wing S’bura Sithole, who showed wonderful pace and power as he rounded his opposite number before brushing off two would-be tacklers.

But the hosts battled their way back and the scores were level after 18 minutes after a penalty from flyhalf Riaan Smit and a superb team try that saw the ball travel through five pairs of hands before flank Francois Uys dotted down between the posts.

The Sharks XV re-established their 10-point lead thanks to Prinsloo’s second penalty and yet another sparkling try as Prinsloo grabbed a try after a move that began in the visitor’s own 22-metre area was given impetus by a powerful break from outside centre Wandile Mjekevu.

The Free State XV battled their way back into the contest thanks to a well-worked set play move from a scrum 15 metres from the Sharks line which allowed left wing Kholo Ramashala to cross untouched for a converted try.

However, the Sharks XV grabbed their third try on the stroke of half time when flank Chris Cloete wriggled over in the left-hand corner.

The men from KwaZulu-Natal began the second half in a similar vein to how they had ended the first thanks to a penalty from Prinsloo and the bonus-point score thanks to an intercept try from Mjekevu.

The Sharks XV seemed to be well in control with the score 35-17 after 50 minutes but the home side refused to surrender and they narrowed the gap to just four points thanks to two quick tries from replacement wing Lee-Roy Bitterhout and prop Marcel van der Merwe.

The Free State XV, as the game entered the final quarter, took the lead for the first time when Bitterhout dived over in the left-hand corner for his second try.

Prinsloo levelled the scores with his fourth penalty before Jean Deysel gave the Sharks XV the advantage once again with a converted try in the 72nd minute before Prinsloo made the game safe with two more penalties.

TOYOTA FREE STATE XV – Tries: Lee-Roy Bitterhout (2), Francois Uys, Kholo Ramashala, Marcel van der Merwe; Conversions: Riaan Smit (5); Penalty: Smit.

SHARKS XV – Tries: S’bura Sithole, Gouws Prinsloo, Chris Cloete, Wandile Mjekevu, Jean Deysel; Conversions: Prinsloo (4); Penalties: Prinsloo (6).


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