Sharks pummel Pumas in Nelspruit

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The Cell C Sharks bounced back from their loss to the Bulls with a comprehensive 42-19 bonus-point win over the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

An entertaining and high-paced game, mixed with accuracy at the set-piece and a sense of ruthlessness from the Cell C Sharks proved that this side can do the business. There can be no denying that this was a win crafted off the back of committed preparation and a winning and competitive attitude.

The game started perfectly for the visitors with a wonderful effort involving pretty much every player in the side, Manie Libbok closing out a team try within a minute-and-a-half of play with Curwin Bosh adding the two.

Madosh Tambwe, on his first start in the competition, scored the second try roughly 10 minutes later, exploiting open play and a Pumas’ defence in disarray, sparking the move from within his own half and then creating space and showing his pace to get the result.

Try number three came just before the 20-minute mark, hooker Daniel Jooste, also in his first start, finding his jumpers well at lineout time and on this occasion at the back of a driving maul to drive over and cement the team’s lead.

The fourth try of the game echoed the third, but this time went to former Sharks player Francois Kleinhans, now in the pink and grey colours of the Pumas as they earned their first score in the 27th minute, the conversion taking the score to 21-7 in the visitors’ favour.

The home side missed a second penalty kick to close the gap as the game headed for half-time, and with 30 seconds of extra time having been played after a strong driving maul, the ball went out wide to Sbu Nkosi who delivered a powerful hand-off in the attempted try-saving tackle to score the fourth try.

Bosch maintained his 100% kicking rate with the conversion as the Cell C Sharks went into the break with an emphatic 28-7 lead.

There wasn’t much the Cell C Sharks needed to do any differently in the second half, just to keep doing what they had been, but the half-time stoppage did create a break in momentum and it was the Pumas who struck first blood, albeit after a quarter of an hour’s play, scoring their second try to cut the deficit to 14 points.

But a strong forward effort in the driving maul off an attacking lineout, with replacement hooker Kerron van Vuuren ably supported by a handful of backs adding their support to the drive, cancelled out the previous Pumas’ try, and Bosch’s successful conversion took the Cell C Sharks into a 35-14 lead going into the final quarter.

The helter-skelter nature of the half continued as the Pumas struck back, a good period of attack eventually paying off with a try in the corner. With just over five minutes remaining and the wide-angle conversion going awry, the 16-point lead looked to be too much to catch.

When Van Vuuren scored his second try and his team’s sixth try with just two minutes of the game remaining, the result was a foregone conclusion. Bosch nailed his sixth conversion for a wonderful kicking effort as the Cell C Sharks went into a 42-19 lead with full-time beckoning.

Six tries to three is an emphatic statement of intent against a side that brings huge commitment and bravery to every game they play. Unfortunately for the home side, they were up against a Cell C Sharks side that had every weapon necessary to win.

Vodacom Man of the Match Bosch paid tribute to a collective effort, saying, “It was a great team performance, but the forwards did some really heard work, credit to them. We need to lift them the standards we set ourselves earlier in the year, but this weekend’s win was a step in raising the bar.”

The scorers:

For Pumas:
Try: Kleinhans, Cronje 2
Con: Boshoff 2

For Sharks:
Tries: Libbok, Tambwe, Jooste, Nkosi, Van Vuuren 2
Cons: Bosch 6

Photo: Curwin Bosch. (Howard Cleland/The Sharks)

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