Kockott seals victory for Sharks

Rory Kockott emerged as the hero as he slotted four late penalties to hand the Sharks a thrilling 28-25 victory over Western Province in a Currie Cup match played in Durban on Friday night.

After being up against it for the majority of the match, the Sharks needed a hero—and the man who stepped up to the kicking plate, so to speak, was man-of-the-match Kockott.

With both sides fielding relatively new-look sides and playing their first top-flight match in weeks, there was always going to be an element of rustiness in their play.

However, the truly dour first-half showing by the Sharks would have had new coach John Plumtree preparing to give his charges a half-time tongue lashing.

Conceding four penalties and a soft try, they headed into the interval with a shock 19-11 half-time deficit that silenced the 17 000 fans who turned up to see the Sharks in action for the first time at home since their Super 14 win over the Chiefs.

The Sharks at last found their feet in the 50th minute when number eight Keegan Daniel found himself on the wing and once again showed his pace as he went over in the corner to reduce the deficit to six.

They held the supremacy for the next 10 minutes, but ultimately continued to be the architects of their own demise as handling errors cost them at crucial times while they were headed for the red zone.

Kockott eventually managed to cut the deficit to 25-22 with two well-taken penalties, setting things up perfectly for a tense final 10 minutes played out in driving rain, adding further drama to proceedings.

He then slotted his third penalty within minutes to level the scores before nailing another just moments later to hand his side an incredibly hard-earned win.

In a penalty-riddled opening 10 minutes, Kockott missed one and slotted two penalties while Western Province flyhalf Willem de Waal nailed his first from right in front.

The Sharks’ lead was extended to 11-3 when Kockott, who had an absolutely storming outing that would have had Peter de Villiers sitting up and taking notice, sniped around the blindside from the base of a scrum on the Province 22 to dive over in the corner for the opening try.

From that point forward, things progressively unravelled for the Sharks as error after error and penalty after penalty saw them under the cosh for the final quarter of the half.

Almost inevitably it was an error in the 31st minute that cost them seven points as they lost the ball on attack, allowing WP to capitalise as they quickly sent it out to veteran winger Wylie Human, who sprinted nearly 50m to go over untouched.

And when kicking metronome De Waal added another penalty from 53m out after the half-time hooter had sounded, it aptly summed up the Sharks’ half.

The men from the Cape continued their onslaught early in the second stanza as De Waal made the Sharks pay for conceding another penalty as he slotted his fifth kick in succession.

However, Daniel and Kockott produced their magic to turn things around for the Sharks.

Playing against his former teammates, new Western Province recruit AJ Venter received some expected jeers from the crowd but performed solidly without shining.—Sapa

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