Cape Town - The Sharks snatched a dramatic 25-23 victory over Western Province in a Currie Cup match at Newlands on Saturday evening.
In the final 15 minutes the scoreline seesawed as the lead changed hands three times but Province failed to capitalise on the scoring chances that came their way and paid the price.
Province enjoyed both a territorial advantage and a major share of possession at the outset and for the opening 10 minutes they had a vice-like grip on the game. Desperate to lay their hands on the ball, the Sharks infringed on several fronts to concede penalties, two of which were goaled by fullback Joe Pietersen for a 6-0 lead.
In the ensuing minutes, there was some more fiery play from the home side, with scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage leading the way with a fine break to transfer play from his own 10-metre line to the Sharks 22-metre line. A line-out moments later provided the platform for Province to set off on a driving maul which was rounded off with a converted Tiaan Liebenberg try (13-0).
About midway through the first half, the Sharks managed to impose themselves on the game and then lost initiative after they ruck off their own ball in front of the Province posts. The Sharks did, however, squeeze out some advantage for their efforts when centre Meyer Bosman goaled a penalty 10 minutes ahead of the break, for a 13-3 halftime scoreline.
When the teams returned the Sharks turned the match on its head with two tries in the first four minutes of play. First centre Paul Jordaan tip-toed his way past the Province defence after he set off from the halfway line, and then the hooker ran in unchallenged from 20 metres out. Bosman converted the second touchdown to give the Sharks the lead for the first time in the match (15-13).
Pietersen goaled a 54th minute penalty to regain the lead (16-15) for Province, but almost as soon as play was restarted Burden was in for his second converted try and the lead changed hands once again (22-16). With 12 minutes left, the Sharks were reduced to 14 when flank Jacques Botes was yellow-carded for foul play off the ball.
This was the cue for Province to chase down the 6-point deficit and again a 5-metre line-out proved a handy launch pad as flanker Deon Fourie crashed over. Pietersen goaled the angled kick to give Province the lead again 23-22, eight minutes from the end.
The home crowd's roar celebrating the lead was silenced a minute later when Sharks flyhalf Riaan Viljoen snapped over what proved to be a matchwinning drop-goal a minute later (25-23).
Pietersen had a chance to snatch the game for Province four minutes from the end but he fluffed a goalable penalty from 35 metres out.
Western Province: Tries: Tiaan Liebenberg, Deon Fourie.
Conversions: Joe Pietersen (2). Penalties: Joe Pietersen (3).
Sharks: Tries: Paul Jordaan, Craig Burden (2). Conversions: Meyer Bosman (2). Penalties: Meyer Bosman. Drop-goal: Riaan Viljoen. Sapa