Durban - The Sharks secured a home Currie Cup semi-final with an emphatic 53-9 win over the table-topping Lions in Durban on Saturday.
coastal side ran in seven unanswered tries to ensure they host the
Cheetahs in next week's first semi-final at the same venue.
on Saturday the Cheetahs beat Griquas 49-39 to give them a glimmer of
hope of hosting one of the playoffs but their win proved to be in vain
as the Sharks registered a bonus-point win. Despite scoring 14 tries
against the Leopards, it was still not enough for the Blue Bulls to
advance to this year’s Currie Cup semi-finals.
Their fate was in
the hands of Western Province, who had to grind their way to a
bonus-point victory over the Pumas in Cape Town on Saturday to secure a
spot in the top-four.
Province beat the Pumas 43-18 to finish the
regular season with a point ahead of the Bulls on 41 points setting up a
semi-final berth against the Lions in Johannesburg next Saturday.
is the first time since 2001 that the Bulls have not secured a playoff
spot. The Lions, however, will now take on Province in the second
semi-final at Ellis Park next Saturday. The Sharks came out like a
team possessed as they were chasing the bonus-point victory over the
The Johannesburg-based side, however, were not
in a mood to dish out favours as their defence held strong in the
The visitors drew first blood thanks to flyhalf
Burton Francis’ boot as he succeeded with a penalty conversion eight
minutes into the match.
After a number of relentless attacks, the
Sharks finally found a breach in the Lions’ defences as flyhalf
Frederic Michalak scored under the cross-bar six minutes later, with the
pivot converting his own try.
Michalak enjoyed a flawless
kicking performance on the night as he converted all seven of his side's
tries and added two penalty conversions to their score.
Francis reduced the hosts’ lead to one-point with another penalty conversion on the first quarter mark.
Lions, however, received a costly blow with 11 minutes left in the
first half when lock Michael Rhodes was sin binned for a tip tackle.
Sharks soon capitalised on the advantage of having an extra player on
the field as eighthman Ryan Kankowski scored a five-pointer with seven
minutes left in the half.
Centre Marius Joubert received a quick
ball from a ruck on the 22 metre line, and then offloaded to a speeding
Kankowski who dove over for the try, with Michalak converting to take
the score to 14-6.
The Sharks struck once again eight minutes after the restart when Willem Alberts made his presence felt coming off the bench.
Alberts wriggled and turned his way to score his first try since returning from New Zealand, with Michalak converting.
Francis pulled back another three points with his third attempt at goal to take the scores to 21-9.
hosts, however, were unwavering in their pursuit of securing the home
semi-final which saw Kankowski scoring his second and the side’s fourth
try to clinch the bonus-point.
With the monkey of winning with a
bonus-point off their back, the Sharks continued their expansive play as
they added three more tries to comprehensively beat the leading side of
the round robin stage.
JP Pietersen, Jacques Botes and Stefan
Terblanche added the final three tries, while Michalak also added two
penalty conversions in the final 15 minutes of the match.