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Super Rugby: Sharks hold off Cheetahs' late burst
The Sharks survived a dramatic comeback to begin their Super Rugby campaign with a 29-22 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The visitors dominated the first half but if Pat Lambie had not steadily kicked 19 points then Sharks might have come undone after the break.
John Plumtree's Sharks scored one try more than their opponents with Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne and Johann Sadie going over in response to efforts from Lwazi Mvovo and Marcell Coetzee, with Johan Goosen kicking seven points.
Cheetahs did open the scoring, though, with Van der Walt dotting down under a mass of bodies after his team had launched a driving maul five metres from Sharks' try-line.
They would not score again in the first half and Sharks slowly pulled away with a succession of penalties before Mvovo's try on the half-hour mark.
Lambie had already kicked the visitors into a 9-5 lead thanks to three penalties awarded for ruck infringements, with Frans Viljoen culpable for the first.
Cheetahs were under the cosh and Mvovo soon capitalised on a loose ball tapped from a line-out by Ryan Kankowski to race past Cheetahs defenders before going over.
Sharks pressed on after the interval, with Coetzee diving over with the ball after Jacques Botes unloaded having been stopped just short of the try-line.
Lambie converted to make it 23-5 and the 22-year-old put three more points on the board when Lourens Adriaanse was penalised for a scrum infringement.
With 59 minutes played Cheetahs got back among the tries, Labuschagne getting over for his first Super Rugby try after Van der Walt had surged through the Sharks defence.
Goosen's first accurate kick of the match sailed through the posts and Cheetahs made it 17-26 when Sadie took the kicker's pass to beat Tendai Mtawarira and dot down in the corner. The extras came through Goosen and all of a sudden Cheetahs were back in the game.
A Sharks infringement allowed Goosen to narrow the gap to four points with 12 minutes remaining but Lambie confirmed the away victory when he completed a personal haul of 19 points with a late penalty after Boom Prinsloo had infringed at a ruck.
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|06:35||Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Reds|
|17:10||Lions vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th February|
|06:35||Blues vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Sharks vs Cheetahs|
|17:05||Bulls vs Stormers|
|Sunday 15th February|
|06:05||Waratahs vs Western Force|
|Friday 20th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Brumbies|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs|
|17:10||Bulls vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 21st February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Reds vs Western Force|
|15:05||Stormers vs Blues|
|17:10||Sharks vs Lions|
|Friday 27th February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Reds|
|11:00||Western Force vs Hurricanes|
|17:10||Cheetahs vs Blues|
|Saturday 28th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies|
|15:05||Bulls vs Sharks|
|17:10||Lions vs Stormers|
|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com