Michalak stars as Sharks snatch Currie Cup victory

Former France fly-half Frederic Michalak scored all Sharks points as they snatched a 23-22 victory at Mpumalanga Pumas Friday in a Currie Cup thriller.

Michalak converted his two tries and kicked three penalties at 2010 FIFA World Cup venue Mbombela Stadium in eastern city Nelspruit as the defending champions broke the hearts of a Pumas side that led for 36 minutes of the second half.

A brilliant run down the right wing from ex-Clermont Auvergne centre Marius Joubert was halted just short of the try-line, but he offloaded superbly to the Frenchman who dotted down and his conversion won the second-round match for the leaders.

Michalak has been piling up the points for the Durban franchise in the South African championship after scoring 20 last weekend in an ultimately convincing triumph over Blue Bulls.

Pumas pivot Tiaan Marx -- a late call-up for flu' victim Ricardo Croy -- kicked five penalties for a team who stage home fixtures at Nelspruit and mining town Witbank and converted a Coenie van Wyk try.

The outcome meant more hard luck for one of the perennial battlers among the eight teams as the Pumas conceded a late try in Johannesburg last weekend to fall by four points against Golden Lions.

Western Province, runners-up to Sharks last year, gave a first start to fly-half Demetri Catrakilis and he kicked 22 points as the Cape Town side took control during the second half to finish 47-9 winners over Platinum Leopards in north-west university town Potchefstroom.

Catrakilis is the latest of many players to fill a bogey position this year with first choice Peter Grant, a surprise omission from the South Africa preliminary Rugby World Cup squad, among many injury victims.

The debutant converted tries by wing JJ Engelbrecht, prop Brok Harris, centre Johann Sadie, lock De Kock Steenkamp and number eight Nick Koster and also succeeded with four of six penalty attempts at chilly Olen Park.

Star-less Leopards, considered likely whipping boys after losing all 14 league matches last season, began promisingly with fly-half Clayton Durand twice giving them the lead from penalties and trailed by only one point midway through the opening half.

But the Harris try on the stroke of half-time took Province 23-9 clear and Leopards unhappy evening culminated in number eight and stand-in captain Morne Hanekom knocking on a tap penalty just short of the visitors line.


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