Mavesere red card costly as Sharks lose against Cardiff

rugby18 May 2024 18:32| © SuperSport United
By:Brenden Nel

A red card to Hollywoodbets Sharks flanker Timo Mavesere 19 minutes into their match against Welsh side Cardiff proved to be a costly one as the Durban team produced one of their most disjointed performances to go down 36-14 at home.

Considering this was a battle of the bottom dwellers - Cardiff were 12th before the game and Sharks 13th - and both sides had no chance of making the playoff rounds, there was little riding on this game.

The Sharks made 20 changes as their first-choice regulars headed to London ahead of next weekend’s EPCR Challenge Cup final, leaving a combination of older former stars, young upstarts and second-stringers to take their place.

It was hard to know if it was just the red card to Mavesere, who went in hard and hit Gabe Hamer-Webb high. Even though the player was dipping, referee Frank Murphy judged it to be a high degree of danger and immediately decided on red.

It was a harsh result for the Sharks team, who were hoping their youngsters could spark some life and hope for the future with the performance. But just as their season has done, there were too many misfires and a performance best left forgotten that the coaching team would have had little to take away from.

Considering Cardiff last won a game on Boxing Day last year, this win was manna from heaven for them and their coaching team as the smiles afterwards proved.

Many may remember the last time Cardiff played in Durban, winning 35-0 in a rain-affected arm wrestle that led to the firing of Sean Everitt after the game.


It is hard to argue this was worse, but the performance won’t figure in their highlights package for the season. And for the home side, there were very few moments that would want to be remembered.

After the red card, it was hard for the team to get any sort of momentum in the game. Their scrum buckled under the extra man’s weight that Cardiff had and gave away a half dozen penalties, while all around the park their play smacked of a team that hadn’t trained together much, let alone play together as a unit.

The Sharks' main criticism all season has been that without their Boks they seem a bit toothless. But after this performance, there will be more worries that the squad depth is not as it should be. But, yet again, this could have been because of the red card.

There was such a stark contrast from the Lions game before them with the way the side reacted to losing a player for the rest of the game, that it made it seem worse.

And still, even though they were poor, Cardiff failed to capitalise on their mistakes for most of the second half. To be clear, if Cardiff were a top-five team, they probably would have put 60-plus points on the Sharks - in Durban, which should be unthinkable.

Their only two moments of the game came from mishaps - one was a series of knocks close to the Cardiff line where the ball was missed by several players, but Diego Appolis swooped in to scoop the ball over the line and score. The other was late in the game when Curwin Bosch booted a ball through to pounce in the in-goal area and score their only other try of the game.

The rest of the match would rather be highlights for the visitors, as Cardiff did what they needed to do and walked away with a bonus point for their efforts.

Alun Lawrence was the first on the board, forcing his way over from close range in the 14th minute. Mavesere’s red led to Ben Donnell going over shortly afterwards and doubling the lead.

Uilisi Halaholo stepped his way inside two tackles and went over with a powerful leg drive just before the half-hour mark before James Botham completed the loose trio bingo card for tries scored to give Cardiff their bonus point before halftime.

At 26-7 up at the break, it was an uphill struggle for the Sharks to get back into it, but despite their setbacks, they tried hard. Cardiff were also poor in their execution, struggling to take the scoreboard forward as the arm wrestle up front continued.

Eventually, replacement Mason Grady broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute, ghosting through the backline for an easy score, and Bosch’s try was the last word for the game.

The Sharks will write this off to a game that would have taught them much about the depth in their squad, but it was clear that their focus is totally on next week’s final, and it showed on the scoreboard.


Hollywoodbets Sharks - tries: Diego Appollis, Curwin Bosch. Conversions: Lionel Cronje, Curwin Bosch.

Cardiff Rugby - tries: Alun Lawrence, Ben Donnell, Uilisi Halaholo, James Botham, Mason Grady. Conversions: Ben Thomas (4). Penalties: Thomas.