Curwin Bosch sublime as Sharks tear Lions apart, and Jaguares stun Bulls
The Sharks moved to the top of the South African Conference log with their comprehensive, Curwin Bosch-inspired 42-5 triumph over the Lions on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Stormers endured more pain on the road as they went down 24-12 to the Reds in Brisbane also on Friday, and then the Jaguares stunned the Loftus faithful pipping the Bulls 22-20 on Saturday afternoon.
Bosch sublime in Sharks’ Highveld triumph
Curwin Bosch delivered a sublime performance to help steer the Sharks to a sparkling 42-5 triumph over the Lions on a wet Friday evening in Johannesburg.
Robert du Preez’s team outscored the home side by six tries to one to bag a well-deserved bonus-point victory for a rare win on the Highveld.
This followed a last-minute loss to the Bulls in Durban in their previous outing. The convincing win was also the perfect gift for experienced Sharks prop Beast Mtawarira, who became the South African record-holder for the most appearances in the competition as he earned his 157th cap for the Durban team.
The Durbanites also leapfrogged the Highvelders into first place on the South African Conference log, and they now sit on 21 points from seven matches – three more than the Lions.
The visitors hardly put a foot wrong in an impressive first-half display, which was marked by superb attacking play by Bosch, another silky midfield performance by Lukhanyo Am and some clinical finishing by speedster Makazole Mapimpi.
Jacques Vermeulen opened the try scoring for the visiting team and he was followed by Mapimpi (2) and Am. However, it was Bosch who grabbed the attention throughout with some dazzling runs from deep, while he also had a helping hand in almost every threatening move by the visiting side.
Replacement Sylvian Mahuza scored the home team’s consolation try two minutes before the end. However, the last laugh belonged to the Sharks and Bosch, who popped up once more for a try-assist to put replacement Aphelele Fassi over in the corner.
stuns Bulls at Loftus
The Bulls somehow managed to slip to a disappointing 22-20 defeat against the Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, which handed the South Americans a double over the team from Pretoria, who held a slender 9-7 lead at the break.
Two tries in the final 10 minutes stunned the home side and the Loftus Versfeld faithful.
The defeat also means that the Bulls – who could have moved to the top of the South African Conference standings – now trail the Sharks (21 points) by three points.
The point they earned, however, allowed the Pretoria side to move into second spot on the local log and sixth on the overall standings.
This result for the Jaguares followed a 27-12 victory against the Bulls back on February 23, but while the South Americans earned four points for their win they remain bottom of the SA Conference log.
The Bulls were their own worst enemies in the clash and finished the match with 13 men as replacements Tim Agaba and Conraad van Vuuren received yellow cards.
In that time Jaguares replacement back Domingo Miotti scored a brace of tries and he successfully converted the second try to edge his charges ahead for a surprise win.
A try by flank Pablo Matera in the first half, which flyhalf Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias converted, marked the visitors’ only points in the first half, while Bulls flyhalf Manie Libbok kicked three penalty goals to keep his side in front.
Winger Jade Stighling scored a try and Libbok slotted over two more penalties in the second half to hand the home side a 10-point lead; however, two yellow cards and two late tries eventually sealed the home team’s fate.
Stormers suffer more pain
on the road
Then Down Under in Brisbane, two quick tries early in the second half unsettled the Stormers in the third game on their Australasian tour, and they ultimately lost to the Reds by 24-12 on Friday.
The scores were tied at 0-0 at the break and the Capetonians would have rued a couple of missed chances in the first half. Twice in the first 20 minutes they crossed the try-line, with a matter of inches between Damian Willemse and Sergeal Petersen scoring tries for the visitors.
Both teams defended well in the opening half, but it was a piece of cynical play by Siya Kolisi which broke the dam wall.
The Stormers captain was yellow-carded right before the break and during the 10 minutes he spent in the sin bin, the Reds scored twice, through Samu Kerevi and Brandon Paenga, to take a 14-0 lead after 45 minutes.
The visitors fought back through a try by Kobus van Dyk, but when Tate McDermott tapped quickly from a penalty and exploited a momentary lapse of concentration by the visitors, the win was basically sealed for the Reds, even though Damian De Allende added a second try for Robbie Fleck’s team.
The Stormers’ biggest problems were their struggle to convert their opportunities into points, a lack of patience on attack and too many mistakes.
Their tour Down Under concludes next week against the top side in the Australian Conference, the Rebels in Melbourne.
Looking forward to this coming weekend’s action, the Stormers will conclude their Australasian tour this coming Friday in Melbourne against the Rebels (11.45am, SA time), while the Lions begin their road trip next Saturday when they visit the Brumbies in Canberra (11.45am).
In next weekend’s local fixtures the Sharks go up against the Jaguares in Durban (3.05pm) while the Bulls host the Reds in Pretoria (5.15pm).