Sharks overhaul Province
August 21, 2010
Sharks No.8 Ryan Kankowski scored a stunning try against Western Province © Getty Images
Natal Sharks stormed to the top of the Currie Cup table after ending Western Province's unbeaten start to the season with a 27-16 triumph at Kings Park on Saturday. The Sharks now hold a three-point advantage over Province at the top of the pile.
A Keegan Daniel break allowed Sharks wing Odwa Ndungane to score the only try of a tightly-contested first-half, which ended with Province edging ahead thanks to three penalties from reliable fly-half Willem de Waal.
Springbok No.8 Ryan Kankowski lit up the game just after the break with a stunning solo run and try to put the Sharks ahead, a position they did not relinquish due to three penalties from impressive young fly-half Patrick Lambie. WP replacement Nick Koster scored a consolation try in the dying moments.
The Golden Lions produced a fine fightback to edge out the Pumas 33-30 in a remarkable Currie Cup encounter at Witbank on Friday evening.
The visitors had made a stirring start to the game, racing into a 13-0 lead after a converted try from Deon van Rensburg, following a quick tap penalty from the winger, and two penalties from Burton Francis. However, Christo Le Roux crossed for the Pumas midway through the first half and Elgar Watts converted before adding a penalty to leave just three points between the sides at the break.
Watts then crossed just after the interval for a try which put the home side ahead for the first time in the game. They pulled further clear on 49 minutes when they were awarded a penalty try after Franco van der Merwe had prevented Shaun Venter from scoring with the aid of a high tackle. Van der Merwe's cynical foul saw him sent to the bin and the Lions appeared to be in serious trouble. However, Jano Vermaak charged down an attempted clearance from Watts right from the restart and he gathered the loose ball before racing away to score.
Nicky Kirtzinger then came to the fore. In the 57th minute, he put the Pumas back in control when he touched down in the corner but then, just after the hour mark, he undid his good work by picking up a yellow card for a shoulder charge on Van Rensburg.
The Lions took advantage, registering tries through Derick Minnie and Jaco Taute either side of a penalty from Ricardo Croy, to leave the game beautifully poised at 30 points apiece. Then, with just six minutes to go, the Pumas were penalised for collapsing a scrum and Francis converted the resulting kick to nick it for the Lions.
There was no shortage of drama in Pretoria either, with Naas Olivier missing a late conversion attempt as the Griquas suffered a heart-breaking 39-38 defeat to the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
The visitors were trailing by six points when Bjorn Basson crossed after a scintillating attack from deep inside their own 22. That left Olivier with the chance to claim a famous victory for the Griquas but he missed a very kickable conversion attempt to let the Bulls off the hook.
It was a bitter defeat for the Griquas, who had appeared to be coasting to victory after opening up a 20-point lead during the first half after tries from Richard Lawton and Basson (2), and two drop goals from Olivier.
However, John Mametsa crossed just before the break for the Bulls and that score laid the foundation for a spirited comeback which saw them rack up up further scores from Dean Greyling, Mametsa again and Bandise Maku to move 39-33 ahead with just six minutes to go.
The momentum was now very much with the home side but fullback Jaco van der Westhuyzen coughed up possession whilst in a promising attacking position and that allowed the Griquas to counter-attack. They did so to devastating effect, with Rocco Jansen breaking away before putting Basson through to score what should have been a game-winning try. However, Olivier was unable to convert and the Griquas left with two points when they should have left with five.
The Free State Cheetahs boosted their hopes of a top-four finish with a predictably facile 57-0 rout of basement boys the Leopards in Bloemfontein.
The first of the home side's nine tries came courtesy of skipper Adriaan Strauss, who crashed over after a fine charge from Coenie Oosthuizen. It was the latter who struck next, the prop burrowing his way over from close range.
Robert Ebersohn claimed the third try of the evening, after linking beautifully with his twin brother Sias, and the bonus point was secured moments later when Hendro Scholtz coasted through to score.
The Leopards, who had performed with a certain degree of courage and resilience in the first half, collapsed in the second period and the Cheetahs ran in further scores through Philip Snyman, who helped himself to a brace, Philip Van der Walt, Francois Uys and WP Nel.
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