Sharks reach semifinals
April 24, 2009
The Sharks XV became the first team to qualify for the semifinals of the R1-million Vodacom Cup after they beat the Golden Lions 20-7 (halftime 0-7) in an error-strewn first quarterfinal played at Absa Stadium in Durban on Friday.

The Sharks, who finished unbeaten in the South section of the competition, came from behind to score 20 unanswered points against the spirited Gautengers, who only reached the knockout stages after sneaking into fourth place on the North log.

But in all honesty this was a poor advertisement for professional rugby, with both sides guilty of a bucketload of handling errors, missed kicks and generally sloppy play. The Sharks prevailed only because they were slightly less poor on the night than their upcountry opponents.

The Durbanites will now host the winner of Saturday’s match between GWK Griquas and the Vodacom Free State Cheetahs, for a place in the final and a shot at the biggest monetary prize in South African rugby.

The Lions dominated the opening half-hour and were rewarded with a try to centre Walter Venter, converted by flyhalf Jody Rose, but little did they know that this would be the last time they’d trouble the scorers.

The Sharks had two scoring opportunities in that time, but on both occasions scrumhalf Ross Cronjé missed penalty kicks which might have reduced the deficit.

Cronjé eventually got his side onto the scoreboard in the 49th minute with a penalty before he and his flyhalf brother, Guy, were substituted for Charl McLeod and Monty Dumond respectively.

But Dumond missed two easy penalties in the next ten minutes as the Sharks seemingly couldn’t buy a point, before hooker Craig Burden capitalised on poor refereeing to give the home side a fortuitous lead.

From a lineout five metres out, Burden threw the ball to lock Joe Snyman, who passed back to Burden for an easy run-in. But the ball clearly did not travel the required five metres and to rub salt into the Lions’ wounds, Dumond then slotted the touchline conversion.

Rose then missed a penalty with ten minutes remaining that would have levelled the scores, before slicing a drop goal across the face of the posts two minutes later to sum up the Lions' dismal second-half effort.

Dumond made no such mistake with three minutes left, after centre Andries Strauss was high-tackled by fullback Earl Lewis after one of the best breaks of the match.

Fullback Chris Jordaan then saved the best moment of the game for injury time when he chipped over the advancing defence before regathering and diving over in the right-hand corner.

The final score flattered the home side, and they will know that a repeat of their below-par performance in the semifinals will signal an end to their campaign with the winning post in sight.


Sharks XV 20 – Tries: Craig Burden, Chris Jordaan. Conversions: Monty Dumond (2). Penalties: Ross Cronjé, Dumond.

Golden Lions 7 – Try: Walter Venter. Conversion: Jody Rose.

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