Hollywoodbets Sharks 14 - 36 Cardiff Rugby
HT 7-26
Sat 18 May 17:15 Hollywoodbets Kings Park Ref: Frank Murphy United Rugby Championship

Sharks 14-36 Cardiff Rugby

Sat 18 May 2024 17:00 Sharks 14-36 Cardiff Rugby

Cardiff cruised to a bonus-point win over Hollywoodbets Sharks in the BKT United Rugby Championship to finish their time in South Africa on a high.

A dominant first-half performance saw the Blue and Blacks, who have been so unfortunate on so many occasions this season, claim four tries inside 33 minutes at Kings Park. And they looked impressive from the off.

Alun Lawrence claimed the first try and they were helped when the Sharks rightly lost Tino Maversere to a red card.

Ben Donnell, Willis Halaholo and James Botham all then crossed in a ruthlessly efficient 40 minute performance that put them well on the road to a first URC win in 2024.

The second-half was a loose and scrappy affair but Cardiff finished in style with a Mason Grady try to make it 07-36, and although the Sharks added a late consolation try, the Blue and Blacks got back to winning ways and remain unbeaten against the Sharks.

The Sharks made a bright start in Durban and enjoyed all the early territory and possession . Tino Maversere made good ground before he was bravely tackled by Cameron Winnett but the hosts were now five metres out. They had all the numbers to the left but Josh Adams swooped for a try-saving turnover.

Five minutes later, the Sharks were back in the danger zone after kicking a penalty to the corner when Cardiff were perhaps harshly penalised for sealing off at the breakdown.

They went to the middle but Rory Thornton won possession and Ellis Bevan pounced on the loose ball.

When Cardiff had penalties however, they were more efficient. First Ben Thomas kicked his side to the edge of the 22 and when their rampaging maul earned a penalty they went to the corner.

This time the drive was dealt with comfortably but a series of quick, close carries saw Alun Lawrence power over. Thomas converted the score to make it 0-7.

The Blue and Blacks were handed a major advantage shortly after the 15 minute mark when Maversere was shown red. The powerful flanker was perhaps unlucky as he made contact with the head of Winnett but there was no drop in height and contact was made in an upward direction, with force to the head.

And following a long TMO deliberation, Frank Murphy had no choice but to send the back-row forward off.

Cardiff took full advantage as they went to the corner again and in similar circumstances, Ben Donnell was the man to cross for his first try for the club.

Thomas was again on target to give Cardiff a 14-point lead but the home side quickly hit-back following some loose play and a series of errors as the ball squirted through.

Cardiff responded well with Thomas, Josh Adams and Willis Halaholo all looking dangerous - the latter receiving a thunderous hit as his moved possession with a no-look pass virtually as he received man and ball.

Moments later, the hot-stepper displayed his footwork as he cut a short line from a line out set play. He jinked past two defenders and then twisted through another with the help of James Botham for a fine try. Thomas made it three from three with the boot to make it 7-21 after just under 30 minutes.

On 33 minutes, the Blue and Blacks, in pink and black, crossed for their bonus-point try. The foundations were laid by the kick chase of Gabriel Hamer-Webb, who forced Yaw Penxe into a mistake.

He made the cardinal sin of letting a rugby ball bounce and it was collected by Thomas. He did well to step through contact for support to arrive and following a counter ruck from each side, Cardiff were awarded a penalty.

They kicked to the corner, won clean ball and drove over with James Botham the scorer. Thomas’ conversion sailed to the right of the sticks but Cardiff were now in a commanding position, leading 7-26.

There could have been more first-half scorers as Hamer-Webb collected a high ball and spun away from the chase. He displayed his pace and power as he burst clear from deep inside his own half but the Sharks had plenty of cover and they were able to snuff out the attack despite the wing combining neatly with Ellis Bevan.

Cardiff very nearly scored within a minute of the restart after Thomas intercepted from inside his own half but he was chased down before Halaholo’s attempted cross-kick was blocked.

Thomas did however, slot a penalty, their first of the night, to make it 7-29 after 44 minutes. Disappointingly the game became scrappy in the second-half as the Sharks attempted a fightback.

They were unable to break the Blue and Blacks but made everything messy as the game petered out. But Cardiff finished well with Grady finishing comfortably as his side created numbers on the right.

Thomas was again on target with the boot, bringing the scores to 7-36 with less than ten minutes remaining.

The Sharks did score a late try but it was too little too late and Cardiff saw out the last few minutes to secure a 14-36 victory in Durban.