Cape Town - The Sharks have claimed their first win of their Currie Cup campaign after defeating Western Province at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
As it happened: Sharks v Western Province
The home side won 32-27 after leading 15-10 at half-time.
The two sides traded blows throughout the match with seven tries scored in total, but the Sharks were just that little bit better in the end.
The match was fraught with errors from both sides so was not the prettiest game of rugby that will be played this year, but it certainly was exciting.
The visitors continued to struggle with their handling throughout and often gave up possession just as they were looking to make a stride back into the game.
Curwin Bosch and SP Marais kicked a penalty each in the early going, as the Cape side struggled to keep the ball in hand. They had knocked the ball on four times within the first 10 minutes.
The tense start was shattered when Justin Phillips was sent to the sin bin in the 16th minute. The Sharks were attacking the try line when the ref halted play and carded Phillips for foul play at the ruck.
The hosts made them pay immediately, deciding to go for the five-metre scrum with a man advantage from which they promptly through it out wide to Lwazi Mvovo on a huge overlap and he trotted in for the try. Bosch was unable to add the extras.
The visitors answered back straight away, though. They built up a nice series of phases patiently moving the ball into the Sharks half before winning a penalty and setting up a lineout close to the Sharks line.
They went for a classic maul and bulldozed their way over the line with Jaco Coetzee dotting down for the score. Marais added the extras to put Province ahead for the first time.
However, it would not last until halt time. With just a few seconds on the clock in the first half, Bosch lofted a beautiful pass out wide for Kobus van Wyk, skipping several defenders and allowing the winger an easy stroll in for the try.
This time his kick was accurate and the Sharks led 15-10 at the break.
The home side struck like lightning after half time too. JP Pietersen stepped up into the line to intercept a lazy pass from Jean-Luc du Plessis and ran another try for his side. Bosch kicked the extras and another penalty a few minutes later, bringing the score to 25-10.
After a sustained period of about five minutes of pressure from Province eventually led to a try for Ruhan Nel. It felt like a small miracle that they were able to keep the ball for so long and a series of failed bashes at the line softened the defence up enough for Nel to wriggle his way through. Marais' kick made it 25-17.
Marais kicked a 70th minute penalty to narrow the gap even further, but it turned out to be a bit of a trojan horse.
Straight from the resulting kickoff, the Sharks broke through the line and kept the ball live with some wonderful passing and handling to allow Craig Burden to score. Bosch kicked two more and the score was 32-20.
There was time for one more try as Province put everything on the line with wave after wave of attack at the Sharks line. Josh Stander managed to breakthrough in the 77th minute and Marais conversion made it close at 32-17.
But that's how it stayed and the Sharks picked up their first win of their 2019 Currie Cup campaign.
Next week Western Province are up against the Golden Lions at Newlands while the Sharks have a bye.
Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, Jacobus Van Wyk, JP Pietersen, Craig Burden
Conversions: Curwin Bosch (3)
Penalties: Bosch (2)
Tries: Jaco Coetzee, Ruhan Nel
Conversions: SP Marais (3)
15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward (co-captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (co-captain), 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Juan Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phendulani Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Aphelele Fassi
15 SP Marais, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 JD Schickerling, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Corne Fourie
Substitutes: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Josh Stander, 23 Craig Barry