Sharks qualify for Super Rugby playoffs
The Sharks defeated the Cheetahs 34-15 at Kings Park on Sunday to qualify for the Super Rugby playoffs at the expense of the Hurricanes.
The bonus point win moved the Sharks from eighth to fifth place, knocking the Hurricanes out of the knockout stages.
They were forced to work hard for their win after trailing 6-15 at half-time but they then ran in four tries in a superb second-half performance while the visitors failed to add to the five first-half penalties from flyhalf Riaan Smit.
Sharks pivot Frederic Michalak ended with 14 points courtesy of four conversions and two penalties.
“It was a nerve-wracking first 40 minutes but we hung in there and didn’t let them score any tries and we were still in it at halftime,” Sharks captain Keegan Daniel said in a televised interview.
Neither team were able to establish an early advantage in a scrappy first half with Michalak and Smit trading early penalties.
But the Sharks made life difficult for themselves when inside centre Francois Steyn was yellow-carded for a spear tackle on Cheetahs centre Robert Ebersohn in the 19th minute.
Smit kicked the visitors into the lead from the resulting penalty before succeeding with his third penalty, in the 24th minute.
Michalak narrowed the gap with his second penalty but the Cheetahs were punishing the Sharks for their lack of discipline and Smit kicked his team into what seemed like a commanding halftime lead with two more penalties.
The Sharks opted to run a penalty four minutes after the restart and their endeavour was rewarded when flank Daniel dummied his way over from close-range for a converted try to reduce the deficit to two points.
The hosts took the lead for the first time in the match in the 59th minute when right wing JP Pietersen set off on a searing 35-metre run before putting in a deft chip kick which was collected by scrumhalf Charl McLeod who went over for a converted try.
The Sharks were running rampant and two minutes later flank Marcell Coetzee grabbed a well-deserved try when he burst clear from 30 metres out.
The home team wrapped up the bonus point for scoring four tries six minutes before the end of the match when a turnover ball on the halfway line went through four pairs of hands before number eight Ryan Kankowski sprinted clear to score.