Three Sharks tries without reply in the 15 minutes after the break paved the way for a deserved 35-20 Currie Cup victory over Western Province in Durban on Wednesday evening.
After recovering from a long-term injury, Notshe enjoyed a memorable return with a long-awaited start at No 8, while Bosch looked determined and confident as he slotted back in at flyhalf after a period where rumours suggested he could be leaving the Sharks.
The scores were tied 13-13 at the break, but in the 54th minute, the hosts led by 35-13, courtesy of great tries by Celimpilo Gumede, Fez Mbatha and Marnus Potgieter, to ensure they remain unbeaten after two matches.
The first half was a proper arm-wrestle on a very humid evening in Durban, that led to a host of handling errors from both teams. The half-time score-line reflected the evenness of the contest – each side scored a converted try and two penalty goals, and were shown a yellow card apiece.
It was 3-3 – with flyhalves Tim Swiel and Curwin Bosch trading penalty goals – when Inny Radebe (fullback) went over for the hosts in the 26th minute after a period of sustained pressure. Five minutes later, Cell C Sharks wing Yaw Penxe was yellow carded for a high tackle with Godlen Masimla racing to the tryline.
The resultant Swiel penalty goal closed the gap to 10-6, but DHL WP took the lead in the 34th minute when their flyhalf and captain put in a perfect cross-kick to Leolin Zas (wing) where Penxe was supposed to defend, with the converted try putting the visitors ahead on the scoreboard.
Bosch levelled the scores on the stroke of half-time when Swiel was sin-binned for a high tackle, setting up 40 crucial minutes in Durban.
Gumede’s try in the 43rd minute – after the Cell C Sharks had their opponents under pressure – set the tone for what was to follow, and when Mbatha went over from a rolling maul six minutes later, which came after a superb 50/22 kick by Bosch, things were looking good for the hosts.
Potgieter’s try in the left-hand corner five minutes later, which started with Penxe winning a contestable kick, Sikhumbuzo Notshe setting off on a great run down the right-hand touchline before they sent the ball quickly to the left, it was basically over for WP.
Although the exciting young flyhalf Kade Wolhuter, back from a long-term injury, scored a second try for DHL WP, exploiting some weak Sharks defence late in the match, it was the hosts who ultimately made the most of their opportunities, grabbed a try-scoring bonus point in the process and bagged a well-deserved win in front of a small but appreciative home crowd.
Sharks 35 (13) – Tries: Inny Radebe, Celimpilo Gumede, Fez Mbatha, Marnus Potgieter. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (3). Penalty goals: Bosch (3).
Western Province 20 (13) – Tries: Leolin Zas, Kade Wolhuter. Conversions: Tim Swiel (2). Penalty goals: Swiel (2).
The Cheetahs emerged victorious in the other key Currie Cup clash
The Bulls suffered their first defeat of the season, in their first home game of the 2022 Currie Cup campaign, when the Cheetahs outplayed them 38-25 in an entertaining third-round clash in Pretoria on Wednesday evening.
The Free Staters bagged six tries and four conversions while the home team dotted down three times, and kicked two conversions and two penalty goals.
The Cheetahs restricted the Bulls to a single score in the second half, while they helped themselves to 19 points during that period to clinch a deserving victory over the defending champions.
It was the hosts who enjoyed a slender 20-19 halftime advantage, but the visitors from Bloemfontein managed to reel them in during an impressive second half display.
It was a lively, entertaining first half as both sides showed their intention on the attack. Cameron Hanekom (loose forward) and Stravino Jacobs (left wing) grabbed a try each for the Vodacom Bulls, with pivot Chris Smith adding the conversions, as well as raising the flags with two successful penalty goals to hand the light blue jerseys a single-point advantage at the break.
Enver Brandt (left wing), Louis van der Westhuizen (hooker) and Clayton Blommetjies (fullback) broke through the Vodacom Bulls defence for their tries, with skipper Ruan Pienaar (scrumhalf) succeeding with two of the three conversion attempts.
The second half was just as entertaining, even though both sides sent replacements onto the park at regular intervals.
Cheetahs lock Aidon Davis was sent clear by Springbok midfielder Frans Steyn as the Free Staters took the lead via a converted try, and the former Junior Bok was soon followed over the whitewash by Van der Westhuizen, who grabbed his second of the game. Pienaar was spot on with both conversions to stretch their advantage to 33-20.
Try as they might, the Bulls continued to be their own worst enemy with ill-discipline. Instead of the expected fightback, it was the visitors who increased the lead their through a well-worked Andisa Ntsila try.
However, long-striding right wing Sibongile Novuka then managed to beat three cover defenders to dot down in spectacular fashion to give the hosts a glimmer of hope with 10 minutes remaining on the clock (38-25). But the visitors managed to keep their defence intact to walk away with a deserving win.
Bulls lock Reinhardt Ludwig and replacement prop Lizo Gqoboka, as well as Cheetahs loose forward Gideon van der Merwe were shown yellow cards.
Bulls 25 (20) – Tries: Cameron Hanekom, Stravino Jacobs, Sibongile Novuka. Conversions: Chris Smith (2). Penalty goals: Smith (2).
Cheetahs 38 (19) – Tries: Enver Brandt, Louis van der Westhuizen (2), Clayton Blommetjies, Aidon Davis, Andisa Ntsila. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (4).
Meanwhile, Griquas defeated the Airlink Pumas 41-20 in Kimberley to register their first win in three Currie Cup outings on Wednesday afternoon, with Zander du Plessis slotting eight penalty goals in the process.
Griquas 41 (21) – Tries: Alandre van Rooyen, Munier Hartzenberg; Penalty try. Penalty goals: Zander du Plessis (8).
Pumas 20 (13) – Tries: Corne Fourie, Jade Stighling, Simon Raw. Conversion: Eddie Fouche. Penalty goal: Tinus de Beer