Force edged out at 'Shark Tank'

View match page
29 Mar 2015
Force edged out at 'Shark Tank'

The Sharks secured a scrappy 15-9 victory over the Western Force on Saturday in a game that won't be remembered for quality.

It wasn't pretty in Durban, far from it, but the home side won't worry about that as they got the job done against a Force side who should have scored three tries, two of which were chalked off by the match officials.

The Sharks asserted their physical authority early on as a dominant scrum against the head led to a first shot for flyhalf Frans Steyn, who was off-target on five minutes. However, it looked like the set-piece was definitely going to be a trump card for the Sharks.

Surprisingly though, the Force would win a scrum penalty at the next but this time Sias Ebersohn was the player missing his attempt at goal.

Mistakes weren't limited to the kicking tee in Durban as the score remained at 0-0 for the first 30 minutes, as both outfits struggled for gainline success and fluidity in attack. Sharks hooker Kyle Cooper in particular was having an off day with his line-out throwing early on.

It was never going to be something special that opened the deadlock and it looked very much like the Western Force had done it when a pick-and-go from number eight Ben McCalman saw him score. Or so it seemed until the TMO and referee Nick Briant adjudged him to have been short.

Consolation for the Force came via a penalty the New Zealand official came back for and Ebersohn made no mistake this time to make it 0-3.

Ebersohn, a former Cheetahs flyhalf, doubled the Force's advantage one minute before the break as the Sharks came offside and that was how it remained going into the turnaround, with the Australians definitely the happier side in a poor match that had few scoring opportunities.

The Sharks emerged in the Durban rain without Springbok tighthead Jannie du Plessis due to concussion, with Lourens Adriaanse replacing him.

But that didn't affect their game as they came out well, with a bouncing pass from Steyn seeing full-back SP Marais get over to make it 5-6.

Despite the difficult missed conversion, the second stanza was all Sharks and had Odwa Ndungane held Renaldo Bothma's inside pass after his good break on the right on 60 minutes, the hosts would have been in front. Instead the Sharks had a quarter to find the elusive points.

And they came three minutes later when a scrum offence went against the Force and replacement back Fred Zeilinga did the damage off the tee.

However, 8-6 should have become 8-9 when Ebersohn lined up a penalty from bang in front. Unfortunately for him it was an awful missed effort that came back to bite him as from a counter-attack, Sharks full-back Marais broke and then set up flying wing Lwazi Mvovo to make it 15-6.

Credit to the Force though who never gave in and thought they had scored when flanker Steve Mafi went over. However, the TMO and assistant referee intervened and the score was chalked off due to obstruction at the ruck from McCalman. The Sharks now looked to be home and hosed.

Clearly it wasn't the Force's day and a late spillage from centre Kyle Godwin one metre from the try-line summed up a disappointing result, which was comforted somewhat by a late penalty from Luke Burton that secured them a losing bonus-point from a game they might well have won.