Hugo hat-trick seals Sharks first Rainbow Cup victory

Hugo hat-trick seals Sharks' first Rainbow Cup victory

The Sharks’ new recruit Reniel Hugo scored a hat-trick of tries to help his side secure a 33-30 win over the Stormers in their opening match of the newly formed Rainbow Cup.

Reniel Hugo

Hugo starred in a second half comeback from the Sharks that saw the visiting side overturn a significant first half deficit to secure a winning start to their 2021 campaign. Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi also enjoyed a good debut for the Sharks, while the Stormers will be sweating over young flyhalf Kade Wolhuter, who suffered a nasty knee injury in the clash. 

Discipline also proved to be a deciding factor in the match, as the Stormers were given two separate red cards for dangerous tackles and played much of the match at a numerical disadvantage. 

Stormers surge first

Wolhuter scored the first points of the match from a long range penalty, after the Sharks had been pinged for an accidental offside. The successful shot gave the Stormers an early 3-nil lead.

The hosts followed that up with the first try of the match after a good period of phase play. Despite some stern pressure from the Sharks defence, the Stormers broke through after a scything run from outside centre Ruhan Nel. The Blitzbok kept the ball alive and a couple of passes out of the tackle saw scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies cross the whitewash. Wolhuter added the extras to put the Stormers 10-nil up inside of the 10 minute mark.

A second try followed a few minutes later, as Wolhuter burst through a gap down the blindside of a ruck after the Stormers regained possession from a Sharks knock-on. The Stormers flyhalf found support from inside centre Rickus Pretorius, who had a simple run in to score. Wolhuter’s conversion was successful, giving the hosts a 17-nil lead.

The tide was then turned from the resulting restart, as Stormers wing Seabelo Senatla was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle in the air, which saw Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi come down heavily on his neck and shoulders. The Sharks youngster was able to continue, while Senatla’s afternoon came to an end.

The hosts were then reduced to 13 men after Stormers number 8 Willie Englebrecht was given a yellow card for a high tackle. The Sharks opted to kick for touch knowing they had a two man advantage and set a rolling maul that resulted in another penalty.

Their second rolling maul was far more well set and Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi peeled off down the blindside and was stopped short on the try line. Thomas du Toit then sniffed a gap and a powerful pick and go saw the tighthead crash over the line for the Sharks’ first try of the match. Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch slotted the extras to reduce the Stormers lead to 17-7.

Scarra Ntubeni then gave the Stormers a chance to build on their lead as he forced a kickable penalty inside the Sharks half. Wolhuter’s shot at goal was successful, taking the score to 20-7. Shortly afterwards the Stormers flyhalf slotted his third penalty of the match after a high tackle from the Sharks, extending the hosts lead to 23-7.

Wolhuter then missed two shots at goal in quick succession which left a good six points off the table for the hosts in the last ten minutes of the first half.

The visitors then grabbed their second try of the match attacking from a lineout five metres out from the Stormers line. Kolisi peeled off the back of the maul to the openside and popped a no look pass back on his inside to hooker Fez Mbatha, who crashed over the whitewash. Bosch was unable to convert, leaving the Stormers with a 23-12 lead as the team’s headed into the change rooms for half time.

Hat-trick hero Hugo

Reniel Hugo, who joined the Sharks ahead of the Rainbow Cup, scored the first points of the second half thanks to some quick thinking near the Stormers' try line. The lock took a quick tap and bulldozed over the line for his first try of the afternoon, with the seven pointer proving to be part of the catalyst for the Sharks’ eventual victory.

Hugo then ran in his second try of the match as the Sharks worked their way into the hosts half as their numerical advantage began to open up gaps. Bosch booted the extras to give the Sharks a 26-23 lead over the Stormers, the first time the visitors led in the match. The Stormers' discipline added insult to injury after the try as Englebrecht was found guilty of another dangerous high tackle. The Stormers number 8 was shown a red card for repeat yellow card challenges.

The visitors continued to get go-forward with the Stormers stretched on defence and Yaw Penxe nearly scored a try after a break from just inside the host’s half. After he was brought down, Hugo ran a sublime line from the resulting ruck and crashed over the try line to wrap up a hat trick of tries. Bosch added the extras, to see the Sharks onto a 33-23 lead.

With less than ten minutes left to play, the Stormers scored a well-worked backline try attacking from a scrum on the Sharks five metre line. A cross kick was tapped back inside to fullback Damian Willemse, who dotted down for a converted try to reduce the Sharks lead to 33-30.

The Stormers nearly scored at the death of the match but Nel’s attempt to dot down a cross kick over the try line was ruled a knock on, closing the curtain on a 33-30 Sharks win over the Stormers.

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