Miscued kicks kept hurting the Sharks most

2014-07-28 00:00

IT was a performance that director of rugby Jake White will not be proud of.

The Sharks’ semi-final loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday was a non-show from the visitors as they suffered a shambolic 38-6 loss.

The seven-time champions will now meet the Waratahs in next week’s final in Sydney after the Australians won their derby semi 26-8 against the Brumbies.

It will be tough to bet against the New Zealanders, despite the prospect of playing away, especially after their demolition of the Sharks, who they took on at their own forward-orientated game and triumphantly came out on top.

The Durban side, with history against them, never got going and were made to pay for some inaccurate kicking and errors-aplenty to be outscored by five tries to nil.

“We are extremely disappointed with our performance,” Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis said.

“Everything we worked on the last two weeks, we just couldn’t do. We didn’t play in the right areas, we couldn’t field high balls and couldn’t do what we worked on.”

No New Zealand team had ever lost a Super Rugby semi-final — the record has now been extended to 17-0 — and Todd Blackadder’s men never looked like losing this one either after their opening quarter performance.

All Blacks legend Daniel Carter kicked over the first points after three minutes when Jannie du Plessis and Jean Deysel were both off-side, but the worst was still to come.

SP Marais, Francois Steyn, Patrick Lambie — making his first start since March — and Cobus Reinach were all guilty of miscued kicks that kept hurting their side as they battled to gain any territory or momentum.

When the Sharks showed their best glimpse of play, a run out of the back line after 13 minutes, the ball was eventually lost forward. And when the Crusaders returned to the opposing half, a poor Paul Jordaan clearance saw a brilliant attacking move by the loose trio of Matt Todd, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read, the latter skipped past three tacklers to score under the post.

After 25 minutes the territory advantage was up to ­71-29% in favour of the home side and two more Carter penalties. One for a scrum and another for off-side, meant it got even stronger by the half hour.

The Crusaders fullback was having a storming game with his own accuracy and all 50-50 calls appeared to be going against White’s side.

They did get two more kickable penalties before the break. One was taken by Lambie, while the other faded wide, but with the gap only 10 points, the Sharks were well in the game.

However, they returned to their ways of the first 20 minutes in the second half, allowing the Crusaders to score 22 unanswered points.

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