The Sharks and DHL Western Province this past weekend gained invaluable momentum in the Absa Under-19 Provincial Championship as they registered important victories to keep up with the pace-setters as the pool stages approaches a close.
The Sharks hopped into second place on the standings above the MTN Golden Lions, although the Johannesburg team has a game in hand, and Western Province moved up into fourth place following victories this past weekend.
With only five weeks of matches remaining and six teams still in the running for semifinal places, these victories will be invaluable.
The Sharks defeated the MTN Golden Lions 25-9 at Ellis Park, while DHL Western Province registered a 45-36 victory against the Leopards in Potchefstroom and the Toyota Free State edged Border 28-20 in Bloemfontein.
MTN Golden Lions 9 (6) The Sharks 25 (20)
At Ellis Park the Sharks outscored the MTN Golden Lions three tries to none, with the home side having only three penalties to show for their efforts.
Sharks flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis was in particularly good form and scored points in every possible way.
His personal tally of 15 points included a try, two conversions, a penalty and a drop goal, which assisted in placing his team on the front foot.
While the Lions will be disappointed with their defeat they produced a solid second half display and did well to shut out the Sharks. But unfortunately they struggled on attack as they battled to breach the visitors defence.
MTN Golden Lions 9 (6) – Penalties: Brandan Hewit (3).
The Sharks 25 (20) – Tries: Jean-Luc du Plessis, Michael Cloete, Thembalethu Williams. Conversions: Du Plessis (2). Penalty: Du Plessis. Drop Goal: Du Plessis.
Leopards 36 (26) DHL Western Province 45 (24)
The clash in Potchefstroom was a spectacle as the Leopards and DHL Western Province scored a combined total of 11 tries. Western Province, however, had an edge with six tries.
The teams were neck-on-neck in the first half with the Leopards taking a 26-24 lead, but three tries to two by Western Province after the break and better goal-kicking allowed the Cape side to secure their third victory of the season.
The Leopards, however, managed to secure a bonus point for racking up more than four tries.
Leopards 36 (26) – Tries: Andries du Plooy, Dean Stokes (2), Lloyd Greeff (2), Roche Steenkamp. Conversions: Lourens Boddington (3).
DHL Western Province 45 (24) – Tries: Dewald Naude, Luke van der Smit, Michal Haznar, Pieter Schoonraad, Ramone Samuels (2). Conversions: Christopher Smith (4), Jason Worrall, Jason Morris. Penalty: Smith.
Toyota Free State 28 (14) Border 20 (3)
In Bloemfontein, the Toyota Free State built up a 14-3 lead thanks to two first-half tries.
But Border showed great determination to make their presence felt in the second half, which paid off as they outscored the Free State three tries to two.
The Bloemfontein team’s flyhalf Pieter Jordaan also did his bit to secure the victory as he slotted over all four conversions to add to his two tries, to keep his team ahead on the scoreboard.
Toyota Free State 28 (14) – Tries: Louis Venter, Marthinus Oosthuizen, Pieter Jordaan (2). Conversions: Pieter Jordaan (4).
Border 20 (3) – Tries: Athenkosi Mabinda, Conor-Terrah Brockschmidt, Johannes Jonker. Conversion: Werner Barnard. Penalty: Werner Barnard.