Johannesburg - An outstanding kicking performance by former French international Frederic Michalak ensured that the Sharks recorded a 21-19 victory over Western Province in Cape Town on Friday.
Michalak scored all of his team’s points on the night where only one try was scored at a soaking wet Newlands stadium.
The flyhalf scored the first points of the match as the home side were penalised for playing the ball in a ruck near their tryline early on.
Province fought back bravely and dominated territorially throughout the contest, but could not find a way through the Sharks’ defensive line.
The Durban based side’s defence was particularly impressive.
Both sides struggled to adapt to the inclement weather.
Province pivot Demetri Catrakilis eventually levelled the scores in the 30th minute with superbly taken dropgoal.
A pattern of failure as they approached the try-line proved to be the trademark of Province’s game.
After an initial break by Sharks skipper Keegan Daniel that took the men from Durban away from their 22 where Province had set up camp, Michalak slotted his second penalty before successfully kicking a dropgoal two minutes before halftime.
Leading 9-3 at the break, the Sharks started taking better care of possession although only Michalak’s boot proved to be the difference between the sides as he nailed two more dropgoals that gave the Sharks a 15-3 lead.
It was sometimes comical as the teams struggled to get a solid grip on the ball, although Conrad Jantjes couldn’t blame the persistent rain for tripping over his own shoelaces when he received of one many testing kicks.
As was the case in the first half, Province showed great character to bounce back when it looked like the Sharks would build a healthy lead.
Their tremendous comeback started when prop Brok Harris scored the only try of the match.
Catrakilis confirmed that his team would not give up without a fight by slotting two penalties in short succession.
His third three-pointer from the kicking tee in the 68th minute gave Province the lead for first time in the match.
Michalak would, however, have the final say with his fourth penalty conversion.
Scorers : Western Province 19 (3): Try: Brok Harris. Conversion: Demetri Catrakilis. Penalties: Catrakilis (3). Dropgoal: Catrakilis Sharks 21(9): Penalties: Frederic Michalak (4). Dropgoals: Michalak (3)