The Sharks were careful not to break their unbeaten record in the Currie Cup on Friday night, but it took a huge effort from last year’s finalists as a physical, combative team from Pumas pushed them for the entire 82 minutes in Nelspruit.
The Sharks went on to win 24-10 for their fourth straight win and their triumph, at least on the scoreboard, was entirely due to flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain, who managed all eight of his penalties on target.
Although the Sharks dwarfed the territory struggle and their scrum started to make the Pumas very difficult in the second half, the visitors’ attack was interrupted and simply lacked the brilliance needed to pull off a manly Puma defense to break.
The Pumas actually scored the only try and a brilliant try it was, worthy of being the try of the match even if half a dozen had been scored.
It started deep in their own 22 and was fueled by Eddie Fouche’s chip and recollect. The end-to-end try saw 10 Pumas players, but scrum half Lucky Dlepu was prominent, before flank Anele Lungisa, who was a prominent figure with his tremendous work pace throughout the match, passed over for the try.
In a tough encounter where all the soft-hearted characters should have left the field to cry for Mom, the Sharks were more clinical in terms of holding onto the ball, although the inability to turn pressure into attempts will be troubling for coach Etienne Fynn.
However, they kept their cool and weren’t blown off course by a Puma side typically savage on their own turf.
Aside from Chamberlain, players like scrum half Sanele Nohamba, wing Yaw Penxe and flank Thembelani Bholi have all hit their stride in terms of entry to the Sharks’ URC side.