Durban - Springbok flank Willem Alberts grabbed two tries as the Sharks XV completed a 46-31 win over the Pampas XV in their Vodacom Cup South Section match at Kings Park, in Durban, on Friday.
Alberts, playing his first competitive match of the season after recovering from a shoulder injury, showed up powerfully on defence and attack before being subbed on the hour mark as the Sharks clinched top spot in the South Section and the right to host one of the quarter-finals.
The hosts played the first half at a tremendous pace, making a fine start as they scored their first try in the third minute when right wing Kotaro Matsushima went over after some wonderful interplay between the backs and forwards.
Alberts showed his power four minutes later when he barged his way over for a converted try after a series of forward rushes had carried the ball to within metres of the Pampas’ tryline.
Loosehead prop Robbie Harris added to the try count before the visitors finally struck back with a try by fullback Ramiro Moyano.
However, the Pampas conceded two tries in the last three minutes of the half as they were unable to cope with the Sharks' power and pace. Former Springbok Marius Joubert grabbed an intercept try and fullback Jaco van Tonder went over in the left-hand corner.
The hosts scored again five minutes after the restart when Alberts was on hand to take a pass from flyhalf Fred Zeilinga, but the rest of the encounter belonged almost exclusively to the visitors, as the Argentine outfit fought back.
The Pampas dotted down as the match entered the final quarter, when eighthman Leonardo Senatore crashed over, before outside centre Juan Pablo Estelles scored a wonderful individual try as he broke clear from 35 metres out.
Zeilinga slotted over a 72nd minute penalty -- his seventh successful kick of the game -- but the Pampas grabbed a bonus-point try four minutes from time when lock Mariano Galarza crashed over under a pile of bodies.
Estelles went over in the final minute for his second try to complete the scoring.
Scorers: Sharks XV – Tries: Kotaro Matsushima, Willem Alberts (2), Robbie Harris, Marius Joubert, Jaco van Tonder. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (5). Penalties: Zeilinga (2).
Pampas XV – Tries: Ramiro Moyano, Leonardo Senatore, Juan Pablo Estelles (2), Mariano Galarza. Conversions: Benjamn Madero (2), Santiago Gonzalez.