A hungry Cell C Sharks ran in eight tries as they savaged a mistake-ridden Sigma Lions 56-14 in their Carling Currie Cup match at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The bonus-point win, lit up by a hat-trick of tries from the Sharks’ dazzling left-wing Thaakir Abrahams, underlined the Sharks’ position of second on the log, four points behind the Vodacom Bulls. Defeat for the Lions left them rooted to their basement position on the log.
Early good impressions proved to be illusory for the home team as their pack dominated the early scrums, earning three consecutive penalties as they shoved the Sharks eight off the ball.
Indeed the first quarter was ruled by the Lions but the visitors defended manfully and were helped by the Lions’ propensity to commit handling and technical errors at crucial moments.
The Sharks, who had barely penetrated their opponents’ half, scored their first try in the 18th minute following a lightning break from scrumhalf Grant Williams who fed centre Marius Louw who plunged over the line. Cronje duly slotted the first of five conversions.
Almost immediately, the Sharks were back to feed again as Cronje threw out a long pass to the left for Abrahams to dart over in the left corner.
The Sharks continued to be assisted by indiscipline from the home team with hooker PJ Botha yellow-carded for cynical play in the build-up to the second try while Stean Pienaar received another on halftime for being repeatedly offside.
SOME SOLACE FOR HOME TEAM
The intensity of the play began to increase with both teams running at each other in harum-scarum fashion with the general play being littered by mistakes.
But it was the Sharks who were the more clinical with superb interplay between forwards and backs enabling returning skipper Phepsi Buthelezi to power over before, in first half-injury time, fullback Anthony Volmink scored the bonus-point try with Cronje adding the extras.
The second half began much as the first had, with the Lions pushing the Sharks’ pack off the ball, but to little effect on the scoreboard.
And then, with the Lions almost over the visitors’ line, the Sharks scored the most spectacular try of the game, running from their own line, the ball passing through the hands of Louw and Buthelezi before a jinking Abrahams was set free to dance over the line.
There was then some solace for the home team after they had threatened to score on a number of occasions. They finally got on the board midway through the half when Emmanuel Tshituka, who had just been deprived of an earlier try, was mauled over the line. That made the score 35-7 but the Sharks were far from done.
At the beginning of the final quarter, replacement scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba had barely made acquaintance with his teammates before he darted through with electrifying speed after taking a superb inside pass to enable the Sharks to go past the 40 mark.
And then, with seconds left, Abrahams, once again bound for glory down the left wing, unselfishly chose an inside pass to Volmink who cruised over the whitewash for the second time to seal his team’s eighth try and a lopsided victory for the visitors.
Lions (0) 14 – Tries: Emmanuel Tshituka, Jaco Visagie; Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (2)
Sharks (28) 56 – Tries: Marius Louw, Thaakir Abrahams (3), Phepsi Buthelezi, Anthony Volmink (2), Sanele Nohamba; Conversions: Lionel Cronje (5), Boeta Chamberlain (3)
Sigma Lions: 1. Sti Sithole 2. PJ Botha 3. Carlu Sadie 4. PJ Steenkamp 5. Sibusiso Sangweni 7. Emmanuel Tshituka 8. Travis Gordon 9. Ross Cronje 10. Jordan Hendrikse 11. Rabz Maxwane 12. Dan Kriel 13. Burger Odendaal 14. Stean Pienaar 15. Wandisile Simelane
Replacements: 16. Jaco Visagie 17. Nathan Mcbeth 18. Asenathi Ntlabakanye 19. Ruhan Straeuli 20. Lunga Ncube 21. Mandisi Mthiyane 22. Morne van den Berg 23. GW Viljoen
Cell C Sharks: 1. Khwezi Mona 2. Dan Jooste 3. Lourens Adriaanse 4. Gerbrand Grobler 5. Emile van Heerden 6. Dylan Richardson 7. Henco Venter 8. Phepsi Buthelezi (capt) 9. Grant Williams 10. Lionel Cronje 11. Thaakir Abrahams 12. Marius Louw 13. Jeremy Ward 14. Yaw Penxe 15. Anthony Volmink
Replacements: 16. Kerron van Vuuren 17. Nththuko Mchunu 18. Wiehahn Herbst 19. Thembelani Bholi 20. Lappies Labuschagne 21. Sanele Nohamba 22. Boeta Chamberlain 23. Murray Koster