Gutsy Sharks shine in home win

2011-04-25 00:00

THE Sharks’ second-half revival against the Hurricanes in Durban lifted some of South Africa’s weekend blushes as the champion Bulls, away in Perth, and the Lions, at a deserted Ellis Park, again tasted disappointing Super Rugby defeat.

There were anxious moments for the 31 000 crowd at King’s Park, but the defences held before the energy provided by a string of late replacements, and Lwazi Mvovo’s second-half brace of tries, carried the Sharks to a flattering 40-24 win over the Hurricanes.

The bonus point win takes the Sharks to within three of the Stormers, who lead the South African conference and this Saturday’s clash at Newlands will be a massive one.

The Cheetahs did not play at the weekend but, like the Stormers, they had the most productive of weekends, gaining four log points for the bye.

The Bulls threatened at times against the Force in Perth, but they made far too many mistakes and were finally undone by the talented James O’Connor who booted six penalties, missing just one, in the home team’s 26-21 win.

Bulls’ flyhalf Morné Steyn kicked three penalties and a conversion while Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson scored tries for the South Africans, who have now lost three successive games on the road.

“Just not good enough,” said Bulls captain Victor Matfield. “I thought we played well in the first half, but in the second half we could not keep the ball.”

The Bulls now return home to Loftus and Matfield said they would have to win every one of their home games to have any chance of reaching the play-offs.

Scott Waldrom scored two tries as the Chiefs scored only their third win of the season, beating the bottom-of-the-log Lions 34-30 at Ellis Park. They scored five tries to the Lions’ three but it was the direct, robust play of their forwards which set up the win.

This was the Lions 13th consecutive home defeat at Ellis Park and captain Doppies la Grange was again left trying to explain away a narrow loss — the sixth time the side have gone down by seven points or less.

“We’ve been letting through too many soft tries and it happened again,” he said.

The unfancied but spirited Highlanders gained a highly significant win over the high-flying Crusaders, beating them 26-18 in Nelson.

It was the Highlanders’ seventh win in nine games and it opened the door for the Reds to join the Blues as joint log-leaders following their brave 19-15 win over the Waratahs, their neighbours and bitter rivals.

The Reds’ second-half defence, rather than their attacking play of previous weeks, was the decisive factor in their first win over the Waratahs in seven years. Flyhalf Quade Cooper, with a spectacular try, a conversion, drop and three penalties, scored all his team’s points and was again outstanding in the Reds’ record seventh win in a row.

The Hurricanes, controlling the breakdown, bothered the Sharks for long periods, leading 13-3 after 20 minutes and 24-18 after 15 minutes of the second half. But the excellent Sharks defence held firm and the power of Beast Mtawarira, Willem Alberts and a rejuvenated John Smit told and the New Zealanders tired in the final quarter as John Plumtree made use of his lively replacements, Keegan Daniel, Jannie du Plessis and Adi Jacobs.

The sides were level at 13-13 at the break with Smit powering over for the Sharks’ only first-half try and Ma’a Nonu easily splitting Smit and Steven Sykes to send Cory Jane over for the Hurricanes’ first try.

The Hurricanes’ replacement flank Faifili Levave scored from the kick-off as Charl Mcleod’s kick was charged down (13-18) but the Sharks scored four second-half tries through Mvovo (two), Meyer Bosman and Ryan Kankowski.

The Blues, who beat the Rebels 40-23 on Friday, and the Reds are on 39 points with the Stormers on 37, two clear of the Crusaders, who slipped from first to fourth, while the Sharks and Highlanders round out the top six on 34 points each.

 

Saturday’s scorers:

Sharks: 40 — Tries: John Smit, Lwazi Mvovo (2), Meyer Bosman, Ryan Kankowski. Conversions - Patrick Lambie (3). Penalties: Lambie (3). Hurricanes 24 - Tries: Cory Jane, Faifili Levave. Conversion: Dan Kirkpatrick. Penalties: Kirkpatrick (4).

 

Lions: 30 — Tries: Michael Killian, Josh Strauss, Cobus Grobelaar. Conversions: Burton Francis (2), Rory Kockott. Penalties: Burton Francis (3). Chiefs: 34 - Tries: Scott Waldrom (2), Romana Graham, Toby Smith, Dwyane Sweeney. Conversions: Stephen Donald (3). Penalty: Donald.

 

Force: 26 — Try: Cameron Shepherd. Penalties: James O’Connor (6), Willie Ripia. Bulls 21 - Tries: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Bjorn Basson. Conversion: Morné Steyn. Penalties: Steyn (3).

 

Reds: 19 — Try: Quade Cooper. Conversion: Cooper. Penalties: Cooper (3). Drop goal: Cooper. Waratahs 15 - Penalties: Kurtley Beale (5).

 

Highlanders: 26 — Tries: Piutau, Paterson (2). Conversion: Brown (1). Penalties: Brown (3). Crusaders 18: Tries: Guildford, Whitelock. Conversion: Berquist. Penalty: Berquist. Drop goal: Berquist.

Played Friday: Blues 40 Rebels 23.

 

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first, SA times):

Friday:

Highlanders vs Blues, 09:35

Saturday:

Hurricanes vs Reds, 09:35

Waratahs vs Rebels, 11:40

Force vs Crusaders, 14:05

Cheetahs vs Brumbies, 15:00

Bulls vs Chiefs, 17:05

Stormers vs Sharks, 19:10.

Bye: Lions.

 

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