Sharks blow big chance to end Province’s unbeaten Craven Week run

25 June 2024

(Article by Marlowe Bloem. Feature photo: Luke Davidson, who kicked 16 points for the Sharks)

Day one of the Craven Week, being played at Monument in Krugersdorp, ended on a soaring high, with the Sharks taking on DHL Western Province in an action-packed thriller.

The Sharks were first on the score sheet on Monday. They received a penalty after Western Province number 12 Jacobus Blanckenberg ran in front of his flyhalf Yaqeen Ahmed, who was attempting to grubber the ball through the Sharks defence. Sharks’ and Michaelhouse flyhalf Luke Davidson slotted the penalty from 45 metres out to make it 3-0.

Then, an eighth-minute high tackle on Davidson from Blanckenberg resulted in the centre being shown a yellow card. Within a minute, the Sharks had exploited their one-man advantage.

From a scrum 30 metres out, the backline sent the ball out wide. The overlap enabled number 22 and versatile DHS star Aka Boqwana to dive over in the right-hand corner. Davidson tacked on the extras with precise conversion, and the Sharks were into double figures.

When the Capetonians were caught offside from a lineout in the 13th minute, Davidson once again blasted over the kick from 45 metres out for another three points.

Two minutes later, the Sharks’ try scorer, Boqwana, took one for the team, picking up a yellow card. Province launched a daring counterattack from the kick-off. To stop the danger, Boqwana shot up to intercept a pass from Province scrumhalf Adeeb Borraine. He was clearly, unfortunately, clearly offsides.

Western Province made good use of the yellow four minutes later. The Cape side was building pressure, taking the ball through a number of phases in the Sharks’ 22-metre area, but the KZN boys were defending valiantly. Borraine, however, took inspiration from the Wallabies’ World Cup winning scrumhalf George Gregan, pulling off a cunning backhand pass, which put flanker Josh Neill into space for five. Ahmed added the extras from the kicking tee.

Durban High hooker Mahle Sithole retaliated with a turnover after kick-off. He cemented his boots into the earth and guarded the ball with tree branch thick arms, earning the Sharks another penalty. Davidson, once again, was successful off the tee, this time from 22 metres out.

Seven minutes later, Province’s no. 7, Neill was over for a second time. After a break from Blanckenberg, the blue and white stripes made huge gains as they kept possession through the phases. This time, Neill was over in the left corner and Ahmed nailed the conversion.

That made the halftime score 16-14 in favour of the Sharks.

The second half got underway with exuberant pace, and it was Western Province who struck first. From a ruck, 30 metres out, lock Truspe Schoeman picked up and went blind, sprinting through to dot down in the 38th minute. The trusty boot of Ahmed tacked on two.

Then, a high tackle in the 42nd minute cost the Sharks, with Ahmed knocking over the resulting penalty to increase Province’s lead by another three points.

Sharks’ head coach Dusty Noble decided it was time to bring on substitute props Teddy Dlamini, of DHS, and Aphiwe Shelembe, of Michaelhouse. They earned a penalty at their very first scrum. Davidson grabbed the opportunity, slotted the kick at goal from 25 metres out in the 46th minute.

However, when the next scrum collapsed, the penalty went the way of Province and Ahmed bisected the uprights from 35 metres out to pull back three for his side.

Another high tackle, this time by the Cape side, gave Davidson a chance to add three more points to the Sharks’ tally from a difficult angle 30 metres out. This time, he missed the mark.

Ahmed didn’t miss from only 10 metres, however, when the Sharks were pinged for not rolling away at a breakdown.

The boys in black and white were, then, awarded a scrum inside the Western Province 22 for a forward pass. From the set piece, St Charles College scrumhalf Matthew Fick found Zingce Simka, of DHS. The powerful inside centre charged onto the ball and drove over the try line with four defenders strapped to him. Davidson added the extras.

Then, in the 62nd minute, a rare incident occurred when play was stopped for an on-field injury. Western Province received two red cards after TMO reviews.

Flank and double try scorer Josh Neill was sent off for a high tackle in which his shoulder made direct head contact with Sharks prop Shelembe. Next, Province number 18 Henry du Plessis was sent off. He had made a late clear out in the ruck in which he made head-on-head contact with a Sharks’ forward. Due to the contact being late and because he made contact with the head, it was deemed to be highly dangerous, and he was off.

The Sharks had an opportunity to win the game, but ill-discipline let them down.

A high tackle on Ahmed presented Province with another penalty and Ahmed extended their lead from 40 metres out with yet another clean strike. A minute later, Shelembe was shown a yellow card for a dangerous high tackle.

In the 69th minute, the Cape side received yet another penalty when a Sharks’ player was penalised for not releasing the ball at the breakdown. Ahmed added the final points of the contest from 30 metres out.

An entertaining game concluded with many points of discussion. Ultimately, though, the Sharks did not capitalise on their opportunities.

Credit must be given to Western Province. They played at a dizzying pace, which other sides will find difficult to contain.

Their unbeaten record now stands at 13 games, with their last Craven Week loss coming in 2017.


Western Province 36 (14) – Try: Josh Neill (2), Adeeb Boraine. Conversion: Yaqheen Ahmed (3). Penalties: Ahmed (5). Sharks 26 (16) – Tries: Aka Boqwana, Zingce Simka. Conversion: Luke Davidson (2). Penalties: Davidson (4).

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