Sharks finish on a positive note

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14 Jun 2015
Sharks finish on a positive note

The Sharks beat a second-string Stormers side 34-12 in Durban on Saturday to bring the Super Rugby regular season to a close.

The result has zero impact on the overall standings and the Stormers will host the Brumbies in next weekend's Qulaifier as the winners of the South African Conference.

While the Sharks were able to give a handful of stalwarts a winning farewell - outscoring the Stormers four tries to none and recording their third-straight win in the process - it was an error-strewn affair at Kings Park where handling errors outnumbered clean breaks at a ratio of four to one. 

The Sharks led 13-9 at the interval thanks to tries from halfbacks Lionel Cronje and Stefan Ungerer although both were beneficiaries of close calls by the TMO. 

The hosts had ruled both in terms of territory and possession in a scrappy first-half but the Stormers were still in touch at the break thanks to three penalties from Kurt Coleman. 

The Sharks moved clear in the second-half though as Bismarck du Plessis celebrated his final game in black with a try before Lwazi Mvovo secured the bonus point and Odwa Ndungane added a cherry to the cake.

It didn't start well for the Sharks, who watched Stormers flyhalf Coleman open the scoring from an early breakdown penalty shortly before centre Andre Esterhuizen was rightly shown a yellow card for a tip tackle. 

The Stormers were unable to cash in on their numercial advantage during the sin-bin period and the hosts were dealt some good luck at the end of the first quarter when TMO Marius Jonker ruled that Lionel Cronje had touched down first on a loose ball after Ndungane had hacked ahead. 

It was a marginal call so it was perhaps fair that the game's first try brought the Sharks only five points instead of seven as Cronje's conversion effort sailed wide.

Coleman kicked the Stormers back in fornt with two more three pointers before Cronje replied with one of his own to leave the visitors up by a point with half-time looming large.

The Sharks would go into the break in front though after Ungerer was awarded a try after a snipe from close-range. The scrum-half had lost control in the act of scoring but managed to mantain contact with the ball so the try stood. Again Cronje was off target with the conversion but the home side had a four-point head start when the seocnd-half kicked off.

Coleman cut the gap again as he continued his perfect kicking display with his fourth penalty but the Sharks' third try was soon to follow.

Bismarck du Plessis set it up with a chip ahead and finished it off on the right wing after Renaldo Bothma and Ndungane had made strong runs. Cronje hit the target this time to make it 20-12. 

The Stormers' scrum struggled all night and they were made to pay for conceding one against the head when Mvovo collected Cronje's grubber to race clear for try number four. Cronje's conversion stretched the lead to 15 points with as many minutes left to play.

Any hopes of the Stormers grabbing a consolation try were scuppered by a yellow card to fullback Robert du Preez for a dangerous tackle in the closing minutes, for which he was lated cited by SANZAR.

S'bura Sithole's offload down the right wing put Ndungane clear and the winger's pace did the rest as the Sharks celebrated a big win over their South African rivals.