Sharks start URC with bonus-point win over Zebre

Sharks start URC with bonus-point win over Zebre


The Sharks prevailed over Zebre 42-37 in Parma in the inaugural meeting of the new United Rugby Championship competition for the Durban franchise, and what a fantastic game of rugby it was.

Both teams scored five tries in a two-half battle in which the Sharks dominated the first half but lost to the Italians in the second.

Chris Cook was yellow-carded in the seventh minute for lashing out with his boot at Kerron van Vuuren, and a series of attacks on the Zebre line soon carried Reniel Hugo over the mark, and Chamberlain kicked the touchline conversion.

Scrumhalf Tif Eden scored three points for Zebre, but the Italians undone the effort when wing Simone Gesi was sin-binned for a professional foul on the restart, reducing them to 13 men.

The Sharks capitalized on the advantage when Van Vuuren scored with one of his typical bulldozing charges and then Dylan Richardson set Werner Kok free for a sprint to the line. Suddenly, the Sharks led 21-3, and when Chamberlain broke cleanly to give Rohan Janse van Rensburg a try in his debut, a rout appeared imminent with the game still in its first 30 minutes.

However, Zebre had the final word in the half when prop Luca Andreani scored from a lineout maul for a 28-10 score.

Chamberlain kicked a penalty early in the second half, but the first try was scored by winger Gesi. At 31-17, the home team was gathering confidence, and when prop Taine Fox-Matamua scored from close range, the comeback was complete.

At the end of the third quarter, former Lions tight end Carlu Sadie entered the game and in his first action for the Sharks, he won a scrum penalty for Chamberlain to push the score to 34-22.

The game should have been decided when James Venter scored with 15 minutes remaining for a score of 39-22, but Zebre responded with a stunning comeback.

Gabriele Venditti scored a try for a bonus point, and then winger Jacob Trulla scored to bring the score 39-34 with five minutes remaining. They appeared to have the game-winning try with five minutes remaining, but it was disallowed due to obstruction by Kok.

Scorers

Sharks 42 — Tries: Reniel Hugo, Kerron van Vuuren, Werner Kok, Rohan Janse van Vuuren, James Venter. Boeta Chamberlain’s conversions (4). Chamberlain was punished (3).

Zebre 37 — Tries: Luca Andreani, Simone Gesi, Taine Fox-Matamua, Gabriele Venditti, Jacop Trulla. Transformations: Tef Eden (3). Penalty: Eden.

@MikeGreenaway67


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