Sharks stage second half comeback to down South Western Districts

26 June 2024

(Article by Marlowe Bloem; Feature photo: two-try scorer Junior van Wyngaardt)

Wednesday, 26 June, day three of the Stadio Craven Week at Hoërskool Monument in Krugersdorp, saw the Sharks taking on the South Western Districts Eagles (SWD) in an early afternoon game.

On day one of the event, the Sharks had gone down 26-36 to Western Province, while SWD had claimed a 41-34 win over the Valke, and they were the first on the board against a KZN team that looked vastly different from the one that took on Province. Only five players started in the same positions they held on Monday, while two others played in different positions.

The Eagles benefitted from a charge down of an attempted box kick by scrumhalf Marcwin Nero, which enabled them to put pressure on the Sharks. That earned them a free kick, and from there they formed a maul and drive forwards, with flank Henro Kuhn going over for a try. Scrumhalf Elgernon “Ellie” Meyer missed the conversion.

The East Coast side responded from a lineout in the sixth minute, gaining 10 metres with a rolling maul before hooker and Glenwood captain Martin van Wyngaardt broke away to score. Flyhalf Luke Davidson added the extras.

In the 22nd minute, SWD regained the lead when the Sharks were penalised for going offsides at a breakdown, and Meyer knocked over a penalty kick from 30 metres out.

Just three minutes later, Meyer struck again, this time with a lengthy 55-metre effort after the Sharks had been pinged for not releasing the ball being tackled.

At halftime, it was 11-7 to the Eagles. It had been a scrappy effort from the Sharks, who had made too many handling errors and who had also conceded too many unnecessary penalties. The Eagles had delivered a physical performance and intelligent rugby.

It didn’t get much better for the Sharks at the start of the second half when prop Aiden Botha tackled a player before retreating 10 metres from a free kick. He was shown a yellow card.

South Western Districts soon extended their lead. This time, after taking the ball through a number of phases, flank Gareth Maree squeezed his way through two defenders, and reached out over the try line to score. The conversion missed, but the Capetonians led 16-7.

In the 46th minute, the tide turned. From a lineout only five metres from the Eagles’ try line, the Sharks created another opportunity for Van Wyngaardt to go over for try, and Davidson’s accurate conversion attempt brought them to within two points of SWD.

Meyer had a chance to extend his team’s lead to five points, but his effort from 51 metres narrowly missed. Two minutes later, he was presented with another shot at goal, this time from 40 metres, for the same reason, after the Sharks, again, failed to release the player with the ball after making a tackle.

With 15 minutes to go, though, the boys in black and white upped the tempo of the contest.

With SWD is possession, but just five metres from their try line, the Sharks were almost over when Nero stole the ball and slipped through a gap. He was held up, however, and the KZN team had a five-metre scrum.

Hilton captain Hanu Pieterse broke away from the back of the scrum, drawing in SWD defenders. The nball was then played out to the backs, where Westville dangerman Zekhethelo Siyaya received the ball, cut inside, beating his man, to cross for a try. Another successful conversion attempt from Davidson edged the Sharks in front.

The feeding frenzy continue in the 62nd minute when the Sharks dotted down for a fourth time.

After the Eagles had knocked on from the kick-off, coach Dusty Noble‘s charges moved the ball wide from a scrum, which took them all the way up to the SWD five-metre line. From there, Nero again moved the ball to the outside where the Sharks had an overlap. DHS lock Sibusiso Mahlangu found himself in space and he was over.

Davidson maintained his perfect conversion record, scoring the final points of the match.

Final score: 28-19 in favour of the Sharks.

In the second half, the KZN side showed resilience and upped their performance. However, ahead of their last encounter, discipline and handling will be talking points

The Sharks’ lineouts were a highlight of their game. They put together some outstanding manoeuvres to retain possession and create attacking plays from the touchline set piece.

Davidson continued a standout showing as the side’s goal kicker, improving his record to nine out of 10 for the Craven Week.

Despite the loss, the Eagles can hold their heads high after forcing the Sharks to battle hard for the win. The side from the Cape would have been regarded as underdogs by most, but they gave the favoured KZN boys a tough test.


Sharks 28 (7) – Tries: Junior van Wyngaardt (2), Zekhe Siyaya, Sibusiso Mahlangu. Conversion: Luke Davidson (4). South Western Districts 19 (11) – Tries: Henro Kuhn, Gareth Maree. Penalties: Ellie Meyer (3).


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