Gutsy defending takes Sharks over the line against tough Leinster
Gutsy defending helped the Sharks beat a tough Leinster team 28-23 in a United Rugby Championship (URC) match at Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Saturday night.
Leinster pushed the Sharks beyond the 80 minutes in Durban but the local side held on for a bonus point victory which sent them into the top five of the URC log standings.
The Sharks’ four tries came from Makazole Mapimpi, Jaden Hendrikse, Bongi Mbonambi and Phendulani Buthelezi while the visitors managed just two tries that were scored by Scott Penny and Tommy O’Brien.
For their SA visit, the Irish team left home without a number of their experienced players and put their trust in a lot of their youngsters.
On the other hand, the Sharks boasted a decent number of Springbok stars as they continued their push for a place in the URC quarterfinals.
The start of the clash in Kings Park Stadium in front of about 20,000 spectators saw the Sharks dominate territory and possession but they were behind at halftime as the visitors led 17-14.
The Durbanites should have scored at least four tries and secured a bonus point in the first 40 minutes. The final pass not landing killed them.
The Sharks made two great breaks through Werner Kok and Curwin Bosch but the final pass evaded them on both occasions.
Bosch had two penalty attempts inside the first 15 minutes going wide but one of them was in his own half.
All of that led to frustration for the Sharks as they started to concede too many penalties.
The deadlock was finally broken on 17 minutes by the touring team, causing heartbreak for scores of Sharks fans in the Tank.
Scott Penny got the try after his side stole a Sharks' line-out close to the line and Ciaran Frawley’s kick for extras was spot on.
However, it took the hosts only three minutes to respond through a brilliant interception by the classy Mapimpi who easily crossed the whitewash and Bosch’s kick levelled matters.
But a penalty and a 36th-minute try by O’Brien put the visitors back in the driving seat ahead of the break.
The try by scrumhalf Hendrikse kept the Sharks in the game as they were just three points down at halftime.
The young Leinster team came back into the second stanza and increased their lead 20-14 when Frawley scored his third penalty of the night.
But that didn’t deter the Sharks' spirit as they kept on fighting and they were finally rewarded when Mbonambi scored after eight minutes into the second half and they took a lead for the first in the game.
While Leinster reclaimed the lead with another penalty by Frawley things started to fall apart for them as they had two players, Josh Murphy and Peter Dooley, being sin-binned.
Though the Sharks failed to immediately use the numerical imbalance to their favour, a 64th-minute try by Buthelezi gave them a bonus point and they held on to claim the victory.
Sharks Tries: Makazole Mapimpi, Jaden Hendrikse, Bongi Mbonambi Phendulani Buthelezi Conversions: Curwin Bosch (4)
Leinster: Tries: Scott Penny, Tommy O’Brien Conversions: Ciaran Frawley (2) Penalties: Frawley
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