Inny Radebe scored a late converted try to help the Cell C Sharks pip DHL Western Province 21-20 (halftime 14-17) in their Currie Cup Premier Division match at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
The Sharks, despite camping in Western Province’s 22m area for most of the second period, found themselves six points behind and with time running out. Coach Robert du Preez would have been pulling his hair out as his team squandered a few chances to put points on the board with the ball not going to hand or being lost forward in contact.
But with Province trying to run themselves out of their own danger area, Number 8 Nizaam Carr lost the ball forward in contact and from the resulting scrum, the Sharks moved the ball left for Radebe to fight his way over in the lefthand corner for what turned out to be the winning try.
But replacement fullback, Rhyno Smith, had the difficult task of landing the conversion from the touchline with the visitors still behind by one point and the right-footed kicker landed the attempt perfectly to send the Sharks to the top of the Currie Cup log.
Province’s efforts in defender their six-point lead was not helped by the fact that replacement loose forward, Steph de Wit, was shown a yellow card in the 70th minute after referee Jaco Peyper had given Chris van Zyl’s men a warning for repeated infringements.
The men from Durban were out of the blocks fast as referee Jaco Peyper awarded the Durbanites an early penalty try as early as the third minute. The Sharks knocked an early penalty into the corner and from the resultant lineout, the men in black and white drove for the line but the Province defence sacked the maul and Peyper had no hesitation in awarding the penalty try.
But Province came back strongly with a penalty from flyhalf Damian Willemse and then two converted tries through centre Huw Jones, his third in two matches, and flanker Jaco Coetzee, with Willemse adding both conversions.
Province claimed the restart shortly after Willemse’s penalty and worked their way up the field with Jones chipping ahead. The ball bounced favourably and left wing Ruhan Nel gathered and while going to ground, offloaded to Nizaam Carr, who picked the ball up brilliantly off his toes. Carr offloaded inside to Dewaldt Duvenage as the scrumhalf followed up well and then passed inside to Jones to run in unopposed under the poles.
Five minutes later and Province extended their lead to 10 points as Province again attacked the advantage line with Coetzee bursting past loosehead prop, Juan Schoeman and then broke free of the attempted tackle by Radebe to score under the posts.
The Sharks never gave up though and fought back to score a try through hooker Franco Marais after some good work from man of the match and former WP scrumhalf, Louis Schreuder, who flicked a pass inside to Sibosiso Nkosi which caught the Province defence off guard.
Nkosi kept the ball alive and moved the ball to the right and with some excellent handling from the Sharks forwards, Marais burst over the line to bring the visitors to within three points as Radebe landed the conversion shortly before the break. Radebe had the chance to level matters on the stroke of halftime with a penalty in front of the sticks but sent the ball wide.
The second stanza belonged to the Sharks as Province struggled to get out of their own half. When the home side did get their hands on the ball, the constant handling errors created turn-over ball which kept them under pressure.
Schreuder thought he had scored a try midway through the second half after breaking away from the back of the scrum but TMO Shaun Veldsman adjudged that Schreuder had lost control of the ball over the line.
With seven minutes remaining on the clock, Radebe, who had moved into the flyhalf position, put the ball to his boot and sent through a grubber-kick behind the Province defence. Dillyn Leyds, playing at fullback with SP Marais out injured, knocked the ball forward on his tryline with right wing Odwa Ndungane picking up and falling over the line.
Peyper awarded the try but Veldsman advised to check the grounding and on review, Ndungane lost control of the ball and a scrum was awarded to the Sharks from Leyds’ knock-on. From the resultant scrum, Radebe scored the winning try to hand the Sharks their third away victory of the season after beating the Xerox Golden Lions and the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
The Sharks next host the current Currie Cup champions, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Durban while Province enjoy a bye next week before also hosting the Cheetahs in Cape Town on 9 September 2017.