Durban - The Sharks opened their 2015 Absa Currie Cup campaign on a
disappointing note after losing 33-24 to the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium
in Nelspruit on Friday evening.
According to the Sharks website, away matches are always tough and it was never going to be easy
against the current Vodacom Cup champions. Adding to the motivation for
the home side was the opportunity to get one over their more illustrious
opponents. The smaller unions love nothing better.
The early exchanges were physical as to be expected as the two sides
sounded each other out, but after initially keeping the visitors out,
the home side struck back in the most rewarding way possible, scoring
the first try of the match at the 10 minute mark.
JC Roos converted and then moments later struck a massive 55m penalty
to put his team 10 points in the clear. The Pumas were lifted by being
in front against the Durban side and it showed as they threw themselves
into the collisions and attacked with fervour. Another penalty pushed
them into a 13 point lead.
The Pumas had enjoyed some gains from turn-over ball and the visitors
showed just how dangerous a team can be when they steal possession at
crucial times, the Pumas losing the ball on the ground and Khaya Majola
influential in Lionel Cronje’s try. Joe Pietersen’s conversion brought
his team right back into the game at an important juncture when things
could have fallen apart badly.
However, the Pumas were stung by the score and hit back almost
immediately, the Sharks down a man with Lourens Adriaanse
receiving medical attention which forced him to leave the field early.
A second Marnus Schoeman try, this time off a powerful driving maul,
pushed the Pumas into a commanding 20 point lead just before half-time
and they managed to hold out against a late effort from the visitors to
take a 27-7 lead into the break.
If the Sharks needed to strike back, they needed to do it
early and they did, within 40 seconds of the second half whistle, Thomas
du Toit with a blustering run and Heimar Williams exploiting a gap on
Although the Pumas added a third penalty, Daniel du Preez managed to
swivel over to score the third try, on debut which reduced the gap to
nine points and the momentum shift had definitely swung in their favour
in most respects.
Then it was just six following a Joe Pietersen penalty, but time was
not on their side with five minutes remaining to rescue the game. Roos
kicked a fourth penalty to push the lead beyond a converted try to wrap
up the victory.
Tries: Stefan Watermeyer, Marnus Schoeman (2)
Conversions: JC Roos (3)
Penalties: Roos (4)
Tries: Lionel Cronje, Heimar Williams, Daniel du Preez
Conversions: Joe Pietersen (3)