Sharks down Smit's army
Durban - The John Smit World XV (Barney's Army) came to Mr Price Kings Park to raise funds for charity, only to face up to an uncharitable Sharks side who eventually ran out 47-21 winners at the end of an entertaining match, reports Sharks website
editor Michael Marnewick
As promised in the lead-up to the game, Barney’s Army were not here for a social run around and gave the Sharks plenty of work with twinkle-toes Brent Russell scoring his team’s first try after Odwa Ndungane had earlier opening the scoring for the Sharks.
Any ideas that this game wouldn’t be competitive were quickly dispelled as the energy the World XV brought to the game would have surprised those people who might have had the impression that this would be a runaway game for the home side.
Most of the players are playing top flight rugby right now and those who have retired, have only done so recently and still remain in good shape. There were some big hits from both sides while the 2.01m tall Matt Banahan, outside centre weighing in at an impressive 116kgs, kept the Sharks on their toes with some hard running. Suited to life as a lock, he certainly aided his team’s cause, while Butch James marshalled matters well in the midfield with some great distribution.
The Sharks, with a number of youngsters playing for reputations and a shot at the Currie Cup in a few months’ time, brought their own energy to this game and for many of the established players, the break they have enjoyed over the past few weeks seems to have energised them and they played with vigour, Louis Ludik and Odwa Ndungane both looking for work while Riaan Viljoen distributed well from flyhalf and Tim Whitehead weighed in with a brace of tries.
The opening 10 minutes of the second half saw little long range action with both sides battling to maintain continuity although there were some exciting passages of play and a host of changes for Barney’s Army. A penalty try to their side gave John Smit the perfect opportunity to convert the try, to great applause from the 24 000 strong crowd.
The game sparked into action with a double-blitz from the Sharks, Craig Burden beating two defenders and then Chris Cloete racing away after the Sharks had secured the kick-off and found themselves with plenty of space thanks to the initial efforts of Tera Mtembu.
Despite the young legs that were introduced for the World XV, the Sharks weren’t finished yet, with young Rosko Specman adding the Sharks' seventh try after some good following up by Odwa Ndungane who unselfishly fed Specman for the try.
In the closing minutes, John Smit’s team were pushing hard for one final assault and came close a few times. The crowd was delirious in their support as they chanted for their former captain to have the final say and he carried strongly in the final push.
He unfortunately couldn’t but Rob Linde finally scored out wide and the conversion was left to Smit.
He kicked it short but the flags were raised in most charitable fashion and he’ll be credited with the unique distinction of having kicked two conversions on the night.
"I want to say thank you to everyone who came to watch us and support us," Smit said after the game. Scorers:
Tries: Odwa Ndungane, Tim Whitehead (2), Craig Burden, Chris Cloete, Cobus Reinach, Rosko Specman
Conversions: Meyer Bosman (2), Riaan Viljoen (4)
Tries: Brent Russell, Penalty Try, Rob Linde
Conversions: Percy Montgomery (1), John Smit (2)
15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean Deysel (captain), 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Jandré Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Substitutes: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Peet Marais, 19 Chris Cloete, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Gouws Prinsloo, 22 Rosco Speckman.
15 Percy Montgomery (SA), 14 Brent Russell (SA), 13 Matt Banahan (Eng), 12 Marius Joubert (SA), 11 Joe Maddock (NZ), 10 Butch James (SA), 9 Mark McMillian (Bath, Eng)), 8 Shaun Sowerby (SA), 7 Francois Louw (SA), 6 Julian Salvi (NZ), 5 Victor Matfield (SA), 4 Jason White (Scotland), 3 Faan Rautenbach (SA), 2 John Smit (SA, captain), 1 Martin Scelzo (Arg)
Substitutes: 16 Peter Dixon (SA), 17 Danie Minnie (SA, Sharks XV), 18 Rob Linde (SA, former Sharks, WP), 19 Hottie Louw (SA), 20 Rory Kockott (SA, former Sharks, Lions), 21 Stephen Donald (NZ), 22 Stefan Terblanche (SA), 23 Heimar Williams (SA, Sharks XV)