Durban - The Sharks XV held on to secure a nail-biting 26-23 (half-time 14-13) win over the Leopards XV in their provincial tournament match at Northwood Crusaders in Durban on Friday.
Promising flyhalf Innocent Radebe scored a try and kicked three conversions for the hosts for a personal haul of 11 points while his opposite number Benhard Janse van Rensburg ended with 13 points as he scored a try and kicked a conversion and two penalties.
Neither team has had the best of seasons with the Sharks XV having won just three matches out of 10 heading into the game while the Leopards had won four of their 10 games.
But the Sharks XV, based on a strong performance from their forwards outscored their opponents four tries to three to clinch the hard-fought win.
The Leopards made the stronger start to the contest with two Janse van Rensburg penalties giving them a 6-0 lead after 15 minutes.
But the Sharks XV took the lead for the first time when outside centre Neil Maritz went over for a converted try in the 30th minute.
The hosts extended their lead four minutes later when left wing Nkululeko Marwana skated over for another converted try.
However, the Leopards ensured that they went to the break trailing by just one point when flank Jaco Jordaan barrelled his way over for a converted score in the 38th minute.
The second half proved to be just as tightly contested but the Sharks XV extended their lead in the 57th minute when lock, and captain for the night, David McDuling, barged his way over for an unconverted try in the 57th minute before Radebe scored and converted his own try in the 65th minute.
The home team could have been forgiven for thinking that they had the match wrapped up at 26-13 with less than a quarter to play but the Leopards ensured a nervy finish for the hosts thanks to two tries in two minutes, from replacement centre Rowayne Beukman and Janse van Rensburg, but Janse van Rensburg failed to convert his own try in the 73rd minute as the Sharks XV held on for a gutsy win.
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