Toulon - The Cell C Sharks completed a very impressive warm-up match against Toulon at Stade Mayol in their Rugby Masters pre-season friendly on Thursday evening, running out narrow 12-10 victors.
Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick reports that this was a highly competitive match, abrasive from both sides with no shortage of passion and effort, but ultimately the coaching staff would have been very happy with the way things went, although there will be concerns for players who had to leave the field and hopefully these were just precautionary exits.
The game started out with some good early continuity for the South Africans but they couldn't make it count.
The action shifted back into their half but Toulon were unable to close out a good attacking opportunity of their own against some stern defence.
Their quest to play crowd-pleasing rugby meant kicking for the corner rather than at posts and the home side were rewarded as a cross-kick led to the opening try of the match inside the opening quarter hour.
Pat Lambie responded to the unconverted try with a 40m penalty and added another 20 minutes later as the Sharks took the lead for the first time in the match.
There was excellent work at the breakdown, captain Bismarck du Plessis leading by example, earning his team a number of relieving penalties and he was able assisted by numerous team-mates.
Lambie succeeded with a third penalty around the half hour mark following a powerful and highly effective driving maul, but neither side was able to add further to the score-board and the Sharks were able to take a 9-5 half-time lead into the change-rooms.
As early as 17 seconds into the second half of the game, a TMO decision went against Matt Stevens who came agonisingly close to opening his team's account with what would have been a shock try, but the ball was ruled to have been knocked on.
But again it was the hosts who were able to score, wing David Smith again going over in the corner, another difficult and unsuccessful conversation for Sanchez.
A fourth penalty going into the final 10 minutes, this time to replacement flyhalf Fred Zeilinga, pushed his team back into a lead. It would prove to be the match-winner.
A penalty with time up on the clock handed the hosts the perfect opportunity to win the game, but Sanchez couldn't convert and the Sharks had held out for the victory.
Tries: David Smith (2)
Penalties: Pat Lambie (3), Fred Zeilinga
15 Juan Martin Hernández, 14 Joshua Tuisova, 13 Bryan Habana, 12 Jimmy Yoboo, 11 David Smith, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Gerhard Vosloo, 5 Jocelino Suta, 4 Ali Williams, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 1 Xavier Chiocci
Substitutes: 16 Matias Cortese, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Corentin Braendlin, 19 Steffon Armitage, 20 Virgile Bruni, 21 Ulupano Seuteni, 22 Eric Escande, 23 Karim Bougherara, 24 Andy Cramond, 25 Stephane Munoz
15 SP Marais, 14 S’bura Sithole, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Monde Hadebe, 20 Marco Wentzel, 21 Etienne Oosthuizen, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Paul Perez, 24 Odwa Ndungane, 25 Conrad Hoffmann, 26 Fred Zeilinga