The Cell C Sharks defeated the Sunwolves 38-17 following a strong flurry of tries in the end, as Lwazi Mvovo’s hat-trick secured the Vodacom Super Rugby bonus point victory in Singapore on Saturday.
The six tries top two victory started early, a wonderfully clinical passage of play tested the Sunwolves’ defence as most of the team had hands in the movement sparked by Garth April in his own 22 and ending with Lwazi Mvovo breaking through a rare missed tackle to score out wide within the opening three minutes of the game.
April finished it off with a pin-point conversion from the touchline.
It was clear from this strong passage of play and the intent showed from there that the team was all about purpose and desire.
Despite not having much possession at all, the Sunwolves showed that they could also attack and with a strong effort of their own, a TMO confirmed try (along with the successful conversion) saw them draw level a quarter of a way through the game.
We hit back almost immediately when a scrum penalty was kicked to the corner rather than at posts and our forwards responded to the earlier try with a magnificent driving effort from the lineout, Ruan Botha bashing over and April converting.
The third try was somewhat fortuitous but also thanks to pressure as the Sunwolves took a quick tap penalty in midfield but there was a turnover thanks to strong defence and Sbu Nkosi received the ball and got away from the outstretched hand from a would-be tackler to sprint the 40m to score under the posts with April adding the regulation conversion.
The haunting sound of a wolf howling over the PA system did nothing to exhort the Sunwolves with neither side to add to their earlier points and the teams going into the change-rooms with the Cell C Sharks enjoying a three try to one, 21-7 lead at half-time.
It had been an entertaining first half, but to really put in an emphatic performance, we needed to close out more opportunities as coach Robert du Preez had said in the build-up to the match.
Unfortunately the second half failed to start as well as the first half and it was the Sunwolves who were first on the scoreboard after nearly 15 minutes. The conversion pulled them to seven points adrift.
That lead was cut to just four points when the Sunwolves kicked the first penalty of the match as it hit the final quarter, and they now trailed 21-17.
With five minutes of the game remaining, the second half deadlock was broken when Lwazi Mvovo scored his second try, running a direct and hard line at the defence, taking a lovely backhanded pass from substitute lock Etienne Oosthuizen. Crucially, the lead was now nine points and the result sewn up.
Any Sunwolves hopes were further dashed as the ball was lost on a home team attacking move near our 22 and Sbu Nkosi was too quick out wide for his 55m effort.
We weren’t finished as Lwazi Mvovo received the ball from Jean-Luc du Preez who did all the work to break through and make 20m through the midfield and a nifty back pass gave the fullback the space to score his hat-trick.
The bonus point was secured and with it, confidence into next week’s clash with the Stormers at Growthpoint KINGS PARK.
Philip van der Walt, the Cell C Sharks captain paid tribute to the home side’s tenacity, saying afterwards, “The Sunwolves played with a lot of passion and we made a lot of mistakes, although credit to our team who showed composure to get the bonus point and pull it through in the end. It was massive for us to win, we owe it to ourselves and our fans. There were glimpses of good play, although we made lots of mistakes. But we can build on this.”
SUNWOLVES – 17
Tries: Takeshi Hino (18), Shuhei Matsuhashi (51)
Penalties: Jumpei Ogura (63)
Cons: Yu Tamura (19,53)
SHARKS – 38
Tries: Lwazi Mvovo (2,74,80), Ruan Botha (22), Sibusiso Nkosi (34,78)
Cons: Garth April(3,23,35) , Benhard Janse van Rensburg (79)
Sunwolves: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Shota Emi, 13 Ryohei Yamanaka, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Willem Britz, 7 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Noahiro Kotaki, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Hitoshi Ono, 20 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 21 Keisuka Uchidam 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Yasutaka Sasakura
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Beast Mtawarira, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Rowan Gouws, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 S’bura Sithole
Date: Saturday, May 20
Venue: Singapore National Stadium, Singapore
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann
Assistant Referees: Aki Aso, Tasuku Kawahara
TMO: Minoru Fuji