Home Sport Sharks come away with narrow win in epic arm wrestle against Griquas

Sharks come away with narrow win in epic arm wrestle against Griquas

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Tito Bonilla scored eight points as the Sharks bet Griquas in a tight Currie Cup clash in Kimberley on Wednesday night
Tito Bonilla scored eight points as the Sharks beat Griquas in a tight Currie Cup clash in Kimberley on Wednesday night. File Picture: Gerhard Duraan, BackpagePix

The Sharks had their lion-hearted defence to thank after they secured a narrow win over Griquas in their Currie Cup clash in Kimberley on Wednesday night.

AHEAD of this match, Sharks coach Etienne Fynn predicted yet another epic arm wrestle in Kimberley and while he did not have to be Nostradamus to figure that one out, it was exactly that and after a scoreless second half the Sharks snuck home 13-6.

The Durbanites had their lion-hearted defence to thank for the win although they were certainly assisted by Griquas failing to capitalise on a plethora of opportunities in the Sharks’ 22.

ALSO READ: Sharks haul out big guns for Griquas Currie Cup clash

Griquas had so much possession and territory but they could not put the Sharks away, and this loss has almost certainly scuppered their play-off hopes.

The Sharks went into the match with a powerful pack that included URC players in James Venter, Dylan Richardson, Ruben van Heerden, Fez Mbatha and Hyron Andrews, and early on they established an advantage in the set scrums.

And with Griquas battling to throw the ball into the line-out straight, the Sharks had early territory and it was not long before Mbatha crashed over from a line-out maul.

Griquas’ talisman, the long-serving flyhalf George Whitehead, pulled three points back but this was cancelled out by a Tito Bonilla penalty following a scrum penalty.

ALSO READ: Underdogs or not, Griquas will not submit meekly to Sharks

An area where Griquas are perennially strong is the breakdown and this game was no different, with important turnovers being won at regular intervals although captain Venter gave them a taste of their own medicine when he won a vital breakdown penalty when the home team had been camped on the Sharks’ line.

But with half time encroaching, Venter had no such luck a second time when he went for a similar turnover in the same position on the field only to be judged illegal in his action and he was yellow-carded.

Griquas ended the half in full flight and after butchering two try-scoring opportunities they settled for a three-pointer by Whitehead to leave it 10-6 to the Sharks at halftime.

The Sharks started the second half much like they had the first, with much better energy after having spent the second quarter of the game defending for dear life.

They were lucky, though, that Griquas wing Luther Obi doesn’t know the rules too well and twice in five minutes he gave away penalties for crawling on the ground when in possession. One of those penalties could have been three points but Bonilla missed the kick at goal.

Twelve minutes into the half, Whitehead showed his class when he fielded an up-and-under and then kicked a magnificent 50-22. Griquas then went over the line from the line-out maul but the try was disallowed because of obstruction.

The game was on a knife-edge throughout a tense second half and it was the Sharks doing most of the defending. Time and again the home team hurled themselves at the defence but the Sharks bravely hung on and Griquas repeatedly made errors.

Three minutes from time, the Sharks wrapped it up with a Bonilla penalty, the Sharks’ first score since the 23rd minute when Bonilla had also kicked a penalty.

Scorers

Griquas 6 — Penalties: George Whitehead (2).

Sharks 13 — Tries: Fez Mbatha. Conversion: Tito Bonilla. Penalty: Bonilla (2)

@MikeGreenaway67

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