Cell C Sharks 40-12 Glasgow Warriors
A powerful second-half display from the Cell C Sharks saw Glasgow Warriors fall to defeat in Durban this afternoon, as the home side claimed a 40-12 victory over their visitors.
Thomas Gordon’s brace ultimately proved in vain for the Warriors, who now head to Johannesburg next weekend in search of a positive end to a South African triple-header.
A cagey start saw both teams take their time to figure their opponents out, with errors and territorial kicking dominating the opening exchanges. The Sharks would be the first to trouble the scorers, as Boeta Chamberlain took full advantage of a penalty from 40 metres to give his side a 3-0 lead with 12 minutes on the clock.
Glasgow’s response, however, was immediate. Having regathered the restart through Ollie Smith, Sam Johnson’s break saw the Warriors take play over the Sharks 10-metre line. Spying a gap, Gordon then took it upon himself to pick and charge, the openside flanker producing a sublime left-foot step to round Aphaele Fassi and go under the posts for a memorable solo effort. Tom Jordan converted, and the Warriors had the lead.
The Glasgow defence was fronting up well, with Johnson and Ryan Wilson in particular marshalling the hosts well. A second Chamberlain penalty was all that the home side could muster despite their possession, Chamberlain making no mistake from the 22 to narrow the gap to a single point with 24 minutes played.
Both sides were looking to convert any opportunity they could earn, but a couple of errant attempts from the tee would hamper their efforts. Jordan couldn’t quite add three points after George Turner was taken out in the air, before Chamberlain pushed an attempt wide from 35 metres after a breakdown infringement.
With the game finely balanced as it approached the interval, it would be the Sharks who would find the breakthrough on 33 minutes. A well-worked first-phase play would see Chamberlain break the line, before feeding Anthony Volmink on his shoulder to send the winger over the try-line. Chamberlain added the extras, giving the Sharks a 13-7 lead.
It could have been a quickfire double for the home side were it not for the maul defence of Scott Cummings, the Scotland star making mincemeat of a maul on his own five-metre line to deny the Sharks. The blindside could even have sent his side into the break in front, almost freeing Jordan with the last play of the half.
His team-mates followed in his lead as the second half got underway, coming out of the blocks firing as the whistle blew. It resulted in a second try of the match for the visitors, and a brace for Gordon; having kicked successive penalties to touch, Fraser Brown’s lineout found Ryan Wilson, before the Glasgow maul was too strong for their hosts. Gordon was the man to get the crucial touch, Jordan’s conversion sailing just wide to leave the gap at one point.
That score seemed to shake the Sharks into life, however, with the hosts hitting back on 52 minutes. Once more it would be the backs who would get the job done, Fassi’s perfectly-timed offload sending Volmink over in the corner. Chamberlain’s conversion drifted past the post, but the home crowd were in full voice.
With the Sharks unloading the bench, the home side began to take control of proceedings. A third try of the night would follow on the hour mark, with two of their Springboks making the difference. Bong Mbonambi’s lineout throw would find its mark in the form of Eben Etzebeth, before Mbonambi himself would drive over for the score. Chamberlain converted, giving his side a 28-12 lead.
The hosts were now in pursuit of a bonus-point, and it would arrive with 11 minutes remaining. Advantage in hand, Jaden Hendrikse’s grubber kick took a kind bounce to sit up for Fassi, the full-back racing over for the try under the posts. A simple conversion saw the scoreline extended to 35-12 and the result was looking secure for the hosts.
Try as they might, the Warriors were unable to find a way over themselves in the final stages, despite rousing themselves with ball in hand. Sione Vailanu introduced himself with a couple of barnstorming carries on his Glasgow Warriors debut, whilst a clever chip from Sione Tuipulotu almost sent Gordon over for a hat-trick.
Instead, it would be the Sharks who would finish with a flourish. Playing from a quick tap penalty against a scrambling Glasgow defence, Chamberlain’s cross-field kick bounced into the path of the onrushing Werner Kok, the winger diving over to put the gloss on a 40-12 victory for the men from Durban.
A disappointing finale for the Warriors, but there will be no time to dwell on the result – a trip to Johannesburg to take on the Emirates Lions awaits in just a week’s time.