Curwin Bosch contributed 27 points in the Sharks 37-14 victory over the Waratahs in Durban on Saturday.
It was not a thrilling match at all. There was too little contest, too many errors and too little creativity for that. But it was a match that the Sharks thoroughly deserved to win.
Half-time announced that the contest was probably over for by then the Sharks led 31-7. In the second half just 13 points were scored, six by the Sharks and seven by the Waratahs, who were woefully unlike the Waratahs of yore.
Woeful is a fair adjective for the Waratahs. They seemed to lack ambition, skill, purpose, cohesion, enthusiasm. Their error-rate was woeful - and costly, for at least 14 points came off simple errors. In addition the Sharks scored 18 points from penalties, not that their visitors seemed to care. The try-count was only 3-2 but the points difference was 23, largely because the goaled penalty count was 6-0.
Two of the five tries were scored by individuals who had run over 50 metres after Waratah error. They were not skilfully constructed tries.
There was a great deal of kicking in the match. Jaco Reinach did lots of things right, some even brilliantly. but, heavens, he kicked a lot.
Scrums were not frequent, by the way. In the first half there were only two - the first after 37 minutes 43 seconds. The Sharks did not put the ball into a scrum, till the 61st minute. Strange match!
The Sharks kicked off only three times, and each time they profited from it, twice actually catching the kick-off. They kicked off to start the match and attacked. Nick Phipps kicked twice. The first time Ruan Botha charged the kick down, the second time the Sharks scored, though only after 10 phases.
Phipps kicked, Lwazi Mvovo caught and the Sharks ran the ball. Stephan Lewies got close, Coenie Oosthuizen closer, till they went right and, with help from Clément Poitrenaud's quick hands, unmarked Lubabalo Mtembu was able to dawdle over for the try. 5-0 after 3 minutes.
Not long after this Patrick Lambie was hurt and left the field, his place taken by Curwin Bosch who went to flyhalf, the position in which he had previously gained fame, and he had a brilliant match.
Bosch kicked the first of his six penalty goals when Dean Mumm was penalised for an air tackle in a line-out. 8-0 after 8 minutes.
After Jack Dempsey had been sin-binned for a tip tackle on Philip van der Walt, Bosch kicked out for an attacking line-out and the Sharks bashed at the Waratahs. Oosthuizen was stopped right at the line and then when the Sharks went right, the Waratahs were penalised in front of their posts. 11-0 after 12 minutes.
A penalty gave the Waratahs a five-metre line-out. They attacked but the Sharks won a turnover and survived.
The Waratahs were going right when No.8 Michael Wells could not hold onto a pass and the ball bounced from him into the hands of Curwin Bosch who ran. He got away from Michael Hooper, raced away from Andrew Kellaway and scored under the posts after a run of 58 metres. 18-0 after 21 minutes.
The Waratahs were next to score. Clément Poitrenaud's fullback position was vacant and flyhalf Bryce Hegarty chipped into the space. The bounce of the ball deceived Lukhanyo Am who was falling back to it but nestled safely in the hands of Israel Folau who scored. 18-7 after 29 minutes.
Mvovo caught the kick-off and Sekope Kepu was offside. 21-7 which then became 24-7 when a maul was collapsed.
The half-time siren had sounded but the Waratahs played on till Irae Simone did not hold onto the ball which bounced off him to Kobus van Wyk and the wing raced 61 metres through empty acres to score. That made the half-time score 31-7.
The second half started really well for the Waratahs. Just inside the Waratahs' half, Kepu charged down a kick by Reinach and then raced after the ball , gathering it at top speed to set the Waratahs attacking. David McDuling was close and then they went left where, with effortless ease, Folau went over for his second try. 31-14 after 42 minutes.
In the next 38 minutes there were no tries, just two penalty goals by Bosch.
Man of the Match: Philip van der Walt was a candidate till he was laid waist by the armless shoulder of bulky David Lolohea. Van der Walt tackled relentlessly and carried strongly. The same could be said of Jean-Luc du Preez who has a remarkable ability to get past an opponent at close quarters. Jaco Reinach was brilliant under the high ball and is certainly one of the most committed of competitors. His passing was almost much better as he went about it quickly and without dance steps. But he did make some mistakes as people who do a lot are wont to do. Ruan Botha was active and strong. And then there is our Man of the Match who is still a teenager - Curwin Bosch for his speed and skill, mature instincts and 27 points for his team. And he did it with a smile.
Tries: Mtembu, Bosch, Van Wyk
Cons: Bosch 2
Pens: Bosch 6
Tries: Folau 2
Cons: Robinson 2
Yellow card: Jack Dempsey (Sharks, 10 - dangerous play, tip tackle)
Sharks: 15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie (captain), 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Curwin Bosch.
Waratahs: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 David McDuling, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 David Lolohea, 19 Senio Toleafoa, 20 Maclean Jones, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Cameron Clark
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Willie Vos (South Africa)
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