The Sharks will travel to Loftus Versfeld next week to take on Jake White’s mighty Blue Bulls in a repeat of last season’s Currie Cup final.
DURBAN – The Sharks painfully advanced to next week’s Currie Cup final against the Bulls in Pretoria but if they play as badly as they did in beating Griquas 28-24 at Jonsson Kings Park, the silverware is good as banked in the Loftus Versfeld trophy cabinet.
On Friday night, the Bulls were imperious in dispatching Western Province in the first semi-final but 24 hours later the Sharks were sloppy in too many areas of the game and that allowed the ever-niggly visitors to remain in contention, right until the final whistle.
In fact, a Griquas try two minutes from time had the Sharks hanging on for dear life and if they had lost, they would have had only themselves to blame because they had so many opportunities to put the game away, but they kept shooting themselves in the foot with clumsy errors.
The Sharks were mostly messy in their execution on attack but their old malaise of giving away silly penalties at the breakdown manifested again, not to mention the conceding scrum penalties in vital areas of the field.
The Sharks’ game plan clearly was to speed up the game as much as they could to avoid an arm wrestle with the rugged Griquas, which is what happened when the Sharks lost to them at the same venue a month ago. So they wasted no time in taking penalties or lineouts, but the problem was that they were too loose and their handling was shocking at times, especially in the first half.
After half an hour, Griquas led 9-3 after George Whitehead had kicked three penalties gifted to his side. The Sharks then took the lead when Kerron van Vuuren scored one of his trademark tries off the back of a maul and Sharks supporters would have hoped this was the catalyst for their team to shift up a gear or two.
It looked that way when three minutes before half time, instead of taking a shot at goal, Curwin Bosch kicked to the corner and following quick ball from the lineout, centre Marius Louw broke clean through the midfield for a try under the crossbar and a 17-9 half-time lead.
But a minute into the second half the Sharks gave away a penalty for Whitehead to goal although Bosch quickly negated that with his second penalty.
At 20-12 the Sharks again threatened to pull away but they then gave away a soft try to Adre Smith who rampaged through weak defence.
Van Vuuren scored his second try in the same fashion as his first as the game hit the three-quarter mark but the Sharks just could not seal the deal as the proceeded to fumble and bumble and make silly mistakes, such as Bosch taking too long to take a kick at goal, which would have given his team a ten-point cushion.
And when Louw was yellow-carded for a cynical infringement in front of his posts, the door was opened for Griquas to snatch the win in the last ten minutes, and when Johan Momsen barged over and Whitehead kicked the conversion, the Sharks were praying for the final whistle.
Sharks: 28 – Tries: Kerron van Vuuren (2), Marius Louw. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (3).
Griquas: 24 – Tries: Adre Smith, Johan Momsen. Conversion: Whitehead. Penalties: George Whitehead (4)