A missed penalty kick at goal late in the Vodacom Cup clash between the Toyota Free State XV and the Cell C Sharks XV determined the result of the the clash at the Clive Solomon Stadium in Heidedal on Friday.
The attempt by Niel Marais (Free State flyhalf) from wide out went to the right of the uprights and handed the Sharks a 23-22 win in the South section.
With this win, the men from Durban kept their unbeaten record in the competition. They had a narrow 13-10 lead at the break.
There wasn’t much to choose between the teams with the visitors finishing the stronger. They were 13-22 behind with 13 minutes left when the Cheetahs wing, Sino Ganto was send to the sin bin for a deliberate knock down. In this period the Sharks regained the lead they would hang on to until the end.
The Sharks had the stronger start and when Fred Zeilinga (flyhalf) knocked over a 40m penalty goal in the 21st minute, it gave them a well-deserved 10-0 lead.
The Free Staters struggled in the lineouts and lost three of their own throw-ins in the first 26 minutes.
Trailing 3-13, Free State, who brought back a couple of their Varsity Cup stalwarts with the Shimlas' campaign something of the past, got off to the best possible start with Nr 14 Don Mlondobozi scoring a well-deserved try within the first minute to gain the lead for the first time.
Nico Lee’s (No 13) scored 10 minutes later for the Bloemfontein men and Marais converted. That would, however, be the final time they were able to contribute to the scoreboard.
Toyota Free State XV:Tries: Renier Botha, Don Mlondobozi, Nico Lee, Conversions: Niel Marais (2). Penalty: Niel Marais
Cell C Sharks XV: Tries: Hanco Venter, Justin Downey. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2) Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (3)