Late Smith try clinches Sharks win
Warwick Austin
September 08, 2017

A 76-minute try from replacement fullback Rhyno Smith helped the Cell C Sharks to a dramatic 27-25 bonus point victory (halftime 15-8) over the Steval Pumas at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday.

Having trailed for most of the second half, the Sharks clawed back a 10 point deficit courtesy of two tries inside the last quarter of the game to keep their spot atop the log.

It was the hosts who started like a house on fire, when slick hands saw Ruwellyn Isbell cross over in the left-hand corner inside the first five minutes.

Moments later, Kobus Marais added a penalty goal to the Pumas' tally, before a penalty from the boot of recently capped Springbok flyhalf Curwin Bosch narrowed the gap to two points.

Bosch was involved once more when he put Sbusiso Nkosi over in the left corner with a beautiful skip pass to level the scores.

The Sharks then hit the front for the first time in the 27th minute when a superb break and offload in the tackle from captain Ruan Botha set Jeremy Ward away for a try under the sticks.

Akker van der Merwe and Tyler Paul both received yellow cards in the final 10 minutes of the half, but the Sharks managed to hold firm and survive a barrage of Pumas attacks. As a result of their resolute defence, the visitors hit the sheds with the score reading 15-8 in their favour.

The opening 10 minutes of the second half was all about the Pumas, who stormed into the lead with two tries in the 47th and 50th minutes.

First, some sharp handling allowed JP Lewis over on the right hand side, before a Chris Cloete linebreak and one-handed offload set Hennie Skorbinski away for the score to put the Pumas in front.

A superb final 15 minutes from the Sharks saw the log leaders extend their breathing room atop the standings as they clawed back to claim victory.

Replacement Wihan Vosloo got over from a driving maul in the 68th minute before Garth April displayed the Midas touch with a silky back-handed flick to put Rhyno Smith in the space. The fullback showed a clean pair of heels and sprinted clear for the match winning score.

The Smith score not only gave the Sharks the win, but so too a bonus point for scoring the four tries.

It was a highly entertaining encounter, which saw the lead see-saw as both teams played an entertaining brand of rugby. Chris Cloete, in spite of finishing on the losing side, was named Man-of-the-Match.


Pumas - Tries: Ruwellyn Isbell, JP Lewis, Hennie Skorbinski; Cons: Kobus Marais (2); Pens: Marais (2).

Sharks - Tries: Sbusiso Nkosi, Jeremy Ward, Wihan Vosloo, Rhyno Smith; Cons: Curwin Bosch, Garth April; Pens: Bosch

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