Sharks and Lions tee up final
October 22, 2011
Tendai Mtawarira crashed over in the second-half for the Sharks © Getty Images
The Sharks produced a second-half fightback to overcome the Free State Cheetahs 20-13 at Kings Park on Saturday and book their place in the Currie Cup final.
Trailing 13-3 at half-time, tries from Tendai Mtawarira and Odwa Ndungane - who were both at the World Cup with the Springboks - was enough to see them home along with the boot of Patrick Lambie. But it was the visitors who took the early initiative in the first-half with two penalties from Johan Goosen putting the Cheetahs into a six point lead. The Sharks had the opportunity to muster some points on the board but were undone by poor kicking from the tee with Lambie squandering his first effort and former French international Frederic Michalak - who was replaced at half-time - also struggling with two missed kicks.
And the Cheetahs made up for this in ruthless fashion with fullback Hennie Danillier crashing over in the corner as the Sharks lost concentration with referee Marius Joubert giving the away side the advantage after a Sharks infringement at the scrum. However, with the Sharks' kicking faltering from the tee, they resorted to good old-fashioned forward grunt with the pack unleashing JP Pietersen only to have his attempt ruled to be held up by the TMO. And Willem Alberts thought he had bagged the Sharks first try of the game moments later but again the TMO proved to be the Durban side's undoing as he was penalised for knocking the ball on.
With a late Lambie penalty their sole contribution to the first 40, the Sharks rallied in the second-half and struck early on in the 43rd minute with prop Mtawarira crashing over from close range. And they only had to wait 10 minutes for their second try with the Sharks profiting from Lambie's switch to fly-half. It was the young Springboks' break which put fellow World Cup squad member Ndungane over the line. With the clock ticking down, a penalty from Lambie was enough to see the Sharks safely into the final.
And the Sharks will face the Golden Lions after the top side in the table despatched the Western Province 29-20 in front of a poor crowd in Johannesburg in the second semi-final.
The Lions had the boot of young fly-half Elton Jantjies to thank as he contributed 19 points to their total with their tries coming through fullback Jaco Taute and winger Michael Killian. However it was the Western Province who got on the board first through the boot of Demetri Catrakilis after a Lions infringement. What followed was a battle from the tee as Jantjies kicked four penalties of his own with Catrakilis responding with a further six points. But in the 36 minutes the home side crossed for their score of the match with Taute profiting from Michael Rhodes' good work to crash over the tryline to put the home side 10 points in front. Catrakilis slotted a penalty on the stroke of half-time to make the score 19-12 to the Lions.
John Mitchell's men started the second-half the better of the two sides with winger Killian crossing in the 47th minute after a good turnover from his side. But following a penalty apiece, Juan de Jongh crossed over to give the away side some hope. Bulls bound JJ Engelbrecht shipped the ball to Springboks flanker Schalk Burger who put away de Jongh who held off Killian to get over in the 69th minute. However, to the Lions supporters' delight, it proved to be too little too late as the Johannesburg side held on to tee up a home final with the Sharks.
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