Dominant Sharks down Pumas
Brendon Atwell
August 05, 2016

A dominant forward display set the Cell C Sharks XV up for an emphatic 33-10 (halftime 14-10) opening round Currie Cup victory over the Steval Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday evening.

The men from Durban ran in five tries to one to secure a bonus-point win, their first victory in Nelspruit for five years.

The Sharks' forwards set the platform for the rampant win, with man of the match Number 8, Philip van der Walt, putting in an excellent display behind the scrum.

The visitors secured no fewer than four tightheads at scrum time and at times had the hosts running backwards.

The forward dominance had the Sharks race into a 14-3 lead midway through the first half through tries by hooker Franco Marais and fullback Odwa Ndungane after the Pumas' flyhalf, Francois Brummer, had opened the scoring with an early penalty.

The Sharks' opening try came from a powerful maul close to the line after the visitors had raced down the left-hand touchline, only to be denied by left wing Marcello Samson.

Marais controlled well at the back of the maul to score from the lineout. Debutante flyhalf Curwin Bosch converted the try after missing a penalty just five minutes before.

Ndungane rounded off an excellent try that was set up again by the forwards with space created by Van der Walt.

The Sharks pushed the Pumas back in the scrum and Van der Walt picked up at the base, broke down the blind side and then fed Ndungane, who had little to do but cross the whitewash.

Bosch converted again to give the visitors an 11-point advantage.

But the Pumas found some momentum and attacked left, right and down the middle but the Sharks' defence was solid, which resulted in Brummer dropping the ball onto the boot for right wing JP Lewis to chase.

Bosch denied the Pumas a chance at scoring by tackling Lewis in the air and without the ball. The Pumas kicked for touch and mauled their way over the line from the lineout with hooker, Frankie Herne standing up with the ball.

Brummer converted the try to leave the hosts just four points adrift at the halftime whistle.

The second half belonged solely to the visitors with the men from Durban securing four tightheads and adding three tries without reply top get their campaign off to a solid start.

The Sharks thought they had scored early in the second half through scrumhalf, Michael Claassens but the TMO ruled that a pass from flanker Keegan Daniel to centre Andre Esterhuizen had been forward.

This did not deter the visitors who scored shortly thereafter through left wing Sibusiso Sithole.

The Sharks played like they had 15 Sonny Bill Williams on the field as they broke down the left and offloaded in each and every tackle.

Esterhuizen had been brought down short of the line but Claassens whipped the ball out to the right, where Sithole popped up, dummied a man and dived over for the third try which Bosch converted.

The bonus point try was secured with 14 minutes left on the stadium clock when replacement forward Ruan Botha picked up the ball at the base of a ruck and dived over for the score after replacement hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle had been snagged on the line.

Bosch struck the upright with his conversion attempt, but Esterhuizen finished off the game with the final five-pointer after another dominant scrum by the visitors.

The Sharks wheeled a scrum on the halfway line and Van der Walt whipped the ball to Esterhuizen, who came flying down the touchline, and raced away to score and hand the Sharks a comfortable win by 23 points with Bosch adding the extra two points.


Steval Pumas - Try: Frankie Herne; Conversion: Francois Brummer; Penalty: Brummer.

Cell C Sharks XV - Tries: Franco Marais, Odwa Ndungane, Sibusiso Sithole, Ruan Botha, Andre Esterhuizen; Conversions: Curwin Bosch (4).

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