The Cheetahs hammered the Sharks on Saturday to leave the Durbanites in an inconvenient dogfight to reach the Currie Cup play-offs.
Durban — The Cheetahs humiliated the Sharks 44-15 in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon to maintain their unbeaten status in the Currie Cup while relegating the Durbanites to a dogfight to make the play-offs.
The Sharks were coming off a disappointing defeat to the Pumas while the Cheetahs the week before had snuck home in an arm wrestle with the Lions, so both teams were looking for a positive response, and it was the Free Staters who made an emphatic point that the Currie Cup title is theirs to lose.
In turn, the Sharks were simply hopeless. They were nowhere the entire match and as early as the third minute, the Cheetahs’ intent to revert to their famed attacking play paid off when lock Victor Sekekete finished off a superb build-up.
The shell-shocked Sharks responded quickly with a penalty by Boeta Chamberlain but then Rosko Specman — back from a week’s break to celebrate his wedding — broke brilliantly from inside his half and 50m later he offloaded to hooker Marnus van der Merwe for the Cheetahs’ second try.
On 15 minutes, the Sharks were back in it when scrumhalf Cameron Wright was on hand to finish off a good run down the touchline by centre Jeremy Ward.
But there was no suppressing a Cheetahs side that was playing before a good crowd and fullback Cohen Jasper scored on the half-hour mark, and at 17-10 the Sharks would have been grateful that kicker Ruan Pienaar kept missing conversion attempts.
And when flank Andise Ntsila barged over as the half-time hooter sounded to give the Cheetahs their bonus-point try and a 24-10 lead, the Sharks were in trouble.
That trouble deepened ten minutes into the second half when relentless attacking play saw No 8 Mihlali Mosi score and Pienaar’s conversion left the Sharks a distant 31-10.
The Cheetahs lost Cameron Dawson to the sin-bin for a reckless tackle on Hyron Andrews and from the kick to the corner replacement hooker Dan Jooste was thrust over to give the Sharks hope, although Chamberlain missed the conversion.
Pienaar nudged his team into a 34-15 as the third quarter ended for a 34-15 lead and then Siya Masuku added a further three points with ten minutes to go.
The embarrassment deepened for the Sharks when Louis van der Westhuizen went over on the back of a maul.
Cheetahs 44 — Tries: Marnus van der Merwe, Victor Sekeketse, Cohen Jasper, Andise Ntsila, Mihlali Mosi, Louis van der Westhuizen. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (3), Siya Masuku. Penalties: Pienaar; Siya Masuku
Sharks 15 — Tries: Cameron Wright, Dan Jooste. Conversion: Boeta Chamberlain. Penalty: Chamberlain.