Auckland incident no damper for upbeat Sharks coach

2012-04-16 00:00

SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said he was waiting for an official report before commenting on an incident involving Sharks hooker Craig Burden and the Blues crowd in Auckland on Friday.

Objects were hurled at Burden by spectators after he scored following an interception and a 55-metre run to score against the Blues during the Sharks’ 29-23 win at Eden Park.

This follows a similar incident last month when a Bulls supporter, one Johannes Nel, entered the playing area and threw an energy drink bottle at Blues captain Kevin Mealamu.

Peters, who had demanded that the Bulls “throw the book” at Nel, confirmed at the weekend that he had seen the Burden incident, adding that he would wait for the match manager’s report before responding.

“It certainly appears to be different to the pitch invasion at Loftus. As always we are concerned about the safety of our players,” he added.

It had been a nightmare week for the beleaguered Blues and their cause was not helped by a mistake by referee Steve Walsh that saw the Sharks awarded their fourth try after Sharks centre Tim Whitehead had re-gathered a knock-on after the ball had struck a Blues player.

Walsh, a New Zealander but based in Australia, quickly admitted he had made a mistake.

“At the time, I thought he had done fantastically well to juggle and re-gather,” adding that his view had been blocked by the Blues player and he had not seen the ball strike him.

“We got it wrong, I got it wrong,” he told the New Zealand media.

Walsh was involved in an angry confrontation with Blues and All Black lock Ali Williams at the final whistle.

“There’s nothing formal, because he didn’t step over a line. He let his frustrations show, maybe on reflection, he might think it wasn’t such a good idea,” said Walsh.

Blues coach Pat Lam said that in a game lost by six points, the incorrect awarding of the try had been crucial, overlooking the fact that the Blues had also wrongly been awarded a try earlier in the game following an illegal scrum. Indeed, the New Zealander commentator, of all people, conceded that Whitehead’s try had neatly balanced the books.

The Sharks returned to South Africa yesterday with coach John Plumtree happy with the 11 log points picked up in the four tour games.

“Against the Waratahs we were 27-13 up one stage and just ran out of legs and we had a couple of calls go against us. The Brumbies game was really physical but we got up well to win.

“Against the Hurricanes we lost to a better side on the night but defensively we weren’t good enough. But our defence was certainly good enough against the Blues,” he said.

Plumtree paid tribute to the team’s second-half showing in Auckland.

“At half-time I wasn’t happy. The line­out hadn’t functioned, they put us under pressure in the scrum and we really hadn’t got our game going.

“It was pretty clear we were going to stare down the barrel and it was good that we did perform in the second half.

“One try was probably a little fortunate, but that’s the game and we’ve had a few go against us this year as well,” Plumtree said.

The Sharks now face the top-of-the-log Chiefs in Durban on Saturday (5.05 pm) followed by a bye.

Weekend Super Rugby wrap: page 18

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