Springbok powered Sharks defeat Dragons
Ruthless and power-packed Hollywoodbets Sharks took a bite out of the Dragons as the South African giants stormed to a 69-14 victory in the BKT United Rugby Championship in Durban.
The Sharks had not won all season but inspired by the return of several Rugby World Cup winning Springboks they rectified that at Hollywoodbets Kings Park in devastating fashion.
Dane Blacker and Rio Dyer grabbed tries for the Men of Gwent but a second half surge saw Sharks run in ten tries in total to romp to a bonus point win.
Dai Flanagan made four changes as he recalled George Nott, Blacker, Chris Coleman and Aki Seiuli.
Sharks boss John Plumtree welcomed Eben Etzebeth, Jaden Hendrikse Makazole Mapimpi into the starting line-up. International team-mates Ox Nche and Grant Williams add firepower off the bench.
Dragons started the game on the front foot with Dyer and Ewan Rosser looking to make inroads before the hosts opened the scoring through the boot of Curwin Bosch.
The opening try of the game followed as Sikhumbuzo Notshe made a break and the width and neat finish was provided by full back Aphelele Fassi.
Scrum half Blacker was alert to hold up Venter as he went for the line but there was no stopping South African flier Mapimpi who added a second at the midpoint of the half.
Skipper Ollie Griffiths was forced off soon – replaced by the returning Harri Keddie – with Evans missing a penalty.
Dragons got on the scoresheet just before the half hour as Aneurin Owen made a break and fed Evans who drew the last man before sending Blacker over. The conversion cut the lead to 15-7.
The visitors were agonisingly close to an intercept, with Evans racing away only for Werner Kok to get back and haul his man down.
The Sharks scored a third on the stroke of half-time as, moments after Coleman was sin binned at the scrum, Jaden Hendrikse produced a sublime pass to send Kok over for a 20-7 half-time lead.
Bradley Roberts, on his return to Durban, looked to spark early second half endeavour and a drive to the line looked set to gather reward only for the advantage to go to the hosts.
The Sharks sensed blood as the half wore on and a counter-ruck and penalty saw Mapimpi react fast to go quickly and send the supporting giant figure of Eben Etzebeth over.
Kok made another try-saving tackle to deny Tomkinson before he was the architect of another home score as he latched onto Rohan Janse van Rensburg’s break and released Grant Williams to go over.
Dragons hit back from the restart, Dyer collecting the kick-off and showing his pace and power to go over.
But two tries in as many minutes – from Phepsi Buthelezi and Lappies Labuschagne – saw Sharks close in on the half century.
Flanagan’s men looked to hit back, Keddie with the steal, only for the home side to repel the drive and win a penalty.
Three late tries from Williams, Fassi and captain Lukhanyo Am – with Ashton Hewitt having one chalked off for a double moment – compounded defeat in the final ten minutes.
07m Bosch p 3-0
13m Fassi Bosch c 10-0
22m Mapimpi t 15-0
28m Blacker t Evans c 15-7
40m Kok t 20-7
49m Etzebeth t Bosch c 27-7
56m Williams t Bosch c 34-7
57m Dyer t Williams c 34-14
62m Buthelezi t Bosch c 41-14
65m Labuschagne t Bosch c 48-14
72m Williams t Chamberlain c 55-14
76m Fassi t Chamberlain c 62-14
78m Am t Chamberlain c 69-14
Hollywoodbets Sharks: Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Lukhanyo Am, Francois Venter, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse; Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Fez Mbatha, Coenie Oosthuizen, Eben Etzebeth, Emile van Heerden, James Venter, Phepsi Buthelezi
Replacements: Daniel Jooste, Ox Nche, Hanro Jacobs, Corne’ Rahl, Lappies Labuschagne, Grant Williams, Boeta Chamberlain, Rohan Janse van Rensburg
Dragons RFC: Cai Evans (Williams 32), Rio Dyer, Sio Tomkinson, Aneurin Owen, Ewan Rosser (Yendle 40-46, Hewitt 54), Will Reed (Hughes 30), Dane Blacker; Aki Seiuli (Jones 50), Bradley Roberts (Benjamin 66), Chris Coleman, Matthew Screech, George Nott (Davies 50), Sean Lonsdale, Ollie Griffiths (Keddie 23), Aaron Wainwright
Replacements: James Benjamin, Rhodri Jones, Luke Yendle, Joe Davies, Harri Keddie, Rhodri Williams, Steff Hughes, Ashton Hewitt
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU, 80th game)