Through Curwin Bosch’s 71st minute, 52m penalty, the Sharks avoided the mother of all upsets against a well-drilled and fired up Southern Kings outfit.
It could have been a night to savour for the Eastern Cape side but Bosch’s intermittent brilliance spared the Sharks some serious blushes.
If Lionel Cronje’s radar didn’t fail him with his long range 79th minute penalty attempt they would have occupied a special place in history.
However, the rugby gods on duty in Durban didn’t have time for a fairytale.
In a time where the Kings know they will be a mere footnote in Super Rugby history this time next year, they left an impressionable calling card.
With some unexpected verve and intelligence, Deon Davids’s team were deserved leaders at half-time.
Both tries came at the expense of Benhard Janse van Rensburg’s inexperience. His 20th minute clearance kick was charged down buy eventual try scorer Ruann Lerm while his inability to dictate play effectively saw Ruan Botha try a basketball pass.
Makazole “Drex” Mapimpi made light work of Jean-luc du Preez to score the second try in the 32nd minute.
This went against the grain of the physical dominance the Sharks enjoyed, which was apparent through their 27th minute rolling maul try scored by half-centurion Lourens Adriaanse.
Their hard work was not complemented by smart tactical kicking by Janse van Rensburg, who clearly seemed to be out of his depth at this level. It didn’t come as a surprise when he was hauled off in the 47th minute.
With an insistence of keeping the ball among the forwards, livewire utility back Bosch was kept out of the game and Cronje made it a point of not kicking when he was stationed at the back.
After all, Cronje had a point to prove after not getting a fair crack at the number 10 jersey in his time in Durban.
For a player who has never quite realised his immense potential, it was his best game since his days as a crackerjack pivot at Queen’s College.
The balmy night did not sap their energy and they continued to nip at the Sharks, who were also finding it difficult to locate their power game.
When they did find a semblance of structure, they still made heavy weather of scoring their second try.
Kobus van Wyk was on the end of the move in the 65th minute but it needed some sharp thinking from Michael Claassens with his quickly taken penalty that unhinged the resolute Kings defence.
Bosch’s latent nerves of steel and his Big Bertha boot came to the fore to rescue the hosts from what could have been an unspeakable embarrassment.
Tries: Lourens Adriaanse, Kobus van Wyk
Penalties: Curwin Bosch (3)
Tries: Ruaan Lerm, Makazole Mapimpi
Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2)
– TMG Digital/TMG Sport