George - A late try from substitute Sean Robinson saw the table-topping Sharks XV edge out a courageous South Western Districts outfit 26-22 (half-time 13-12) in their Vodacom Cup encounter in George on Friday.
An impressive kicking display from SWD centre Jeff Taljard saw the hosts take a six-point lead into the final stages of the game. Robinson's 70th-minute score however followed a late penalty from the Sharks flyhalf Fred Zeilinga, and ultimately earned their team a fourth successive win of the competition.
The bonus-point defeat for SWD sees them temporarily move up to fifth place in the Southern Section, albeit with three games still to play this weekend in their conference.
There was little between the sides throughout, as Taljard's fourth minute penalty was quickly cancelled out by his counterpart Zeilinga three minutes later. Taljard was however able to give his team an early cushion as he edged them ahead 9-3 with penalties in the 12th and 16th minutes.
The duo continued to trade punches as Zeilinga's 27th minute three-pointer was offset by Taljard four minutes later. It took a superb try from flanker Francois Kleinhans two minutes before half time to wrestle the lead away from SWD.
Yet it was the hosts who emerged stronger after the break. Scrumhalf Mzo Dyanti's 45th minute try was enough to put his team back in front. Taljard was on hand to complete the conversion, and although Zeilinga added a penalty to his team's score two minutes later, SWD's number 12 hit back with his fifth penalty of the evening in the 50th minute to take his side out to a 22-16 lead.
Some shrewd substitutions by the Sharks swung the pendulum in their favour. Zeilinga's 67th-minute penalty narrowed the gap. The home side eventually buckled under the pressure as they let Robinson through for his match-winning try three minutes later.
Despite their best efforts to retrieve the lead in the closing minutes, SWD were unable to break the defences of the visitors and had to settle for a bonus-point reverse.
Scorers: South Western Districts:
Try: Mzo Dyanti
Conversion: Jeff Taljard
Penalties: Taljard (5)
Tries: Francois Kleinhans, Sean Robinson
Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2)
Penalties: Zeilinga (4)