Cape Town - The Sharks XV got back on the winning trail by beating the Eastern Province Kings 34-26 (half-time 15-16) in their Currie Cup qualifier at a cold and windy Nelson Mandela Stadium, Port Elizabeth, on Friday evening.
The Sharks were desperate for victory coming into the match having lost their previous two encounters while the Kings were on the back of a fighting draw against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg.
The EP Kings drew first blood early on when flyhalf Garrick Mattheus slotted a first-minute penalty after the Sharks XV were penalised from the kick-off for obstruction.
Moments later, in the 12th minute, Mattheus was again in the action as he kicked a grubber through, nudged it again with the boot and then collected to score a fine individualistic try which he converted himself.
The Sharks got off the mark soon after that with a penalty by left wing Marcel Coetzee but that was cancelled out when Mattheus also succeeded with one for EP to lead 13-3.
The Sharks narrowed the gap again as captain Khaya Majola scored his team’s first try after a quick tap penalty with the Sharks making good use of their space and extra numbers.
But the Sharks continued to transgress and Mattheus was making them pay as he kicked his third penalty of the evening after 26 minutes.
When the Sharks kept the ball among the forwards they looked dangerous and that led to their second try when lock Ruan Botha crashed. Coetzee converted to reduce the deficit to just one point on the half-hour mark.
EP Kings dealt a blow when hooker Martin Bezuidenhout was yellow carded on the stroke of halftime for not staying on his feet.
Straight after the restart the Sharks were penalised again and Mattheus took his tally to 19 points for the game with the resultant shot at goal.
The Sharks hit the front for the first time in the match when flyhalf Heimar Williams gave the show and go to the opposition then forced his way onto the tryline for his team to lead 20-19.
Fullback Alrin Eksteen then stepped wonderfully after collecting the ball from an incisive running Williams to score the Sharks’ fourth try of the evening.
The Kings, meanwhile, had remained scoreless for 26 minutes in the second half until scrumhalf Francwa Ueckermann sniped through a gap to score under the posts. Mattheus converted again to make it a one-point game with 10 minutes to play.
But the Sharks closed the door on the home side with a try by right wing Wandile Mjeveku in the 75th minute. Coetzee converted to put his team eight points ahead, thereby earning the bonus point.
Tries: Garrick Mattheus, Francwa Ueckermann
Conversions: Mattheus (2)
Penalties: Mattheus (4)
Tries: Khaya Majola, Ruan Botha, Heimer Williams, Alrin Eksteen, Wandile Mjekevu
Conversions: Marcel Coetzee (3)