Sharks deliver, but not for fans

2012-05-07 00:00

THE Sharks and Cheetehas, both at home, and the travelling pink Bulls were mightily relieved to pick up weekend Super Rugby wins, but the Lions suffered another disappointing defeat.

And yesterday, in a contest marked by strong defence, the Crusaders gained their fourth successive victory as Tom Taylor kicked five penalties to give the Crusaders a 15-11 win over the Reds in Christchurch.

The Sharks, taking the most conservative route to victory, but defending strongly, outkicked the Highlanders at King’s Park, with Pat Lambie scoring all their points in their 28-16 win.

The Cheetahs stuttered on attack and failed to take their many scoring chances, but gained a 17-13 win over the Force in Bloemfontein.

The Lions, in the opening match of their tour, played with greater intensity and fought back well in the second half, but the log-leading Chiefs, fielding a depleted pack, still came through to win 34-21.

The Brumbies, in their sixth win of the season, were too strong for the Waratahs in Canberra and extended their lead at the top of the Australian conference with a 23-6 win.

They did, however, lose their flyhalf and playmaker, Christian Lealiifano, to a broken ankle and he is out for the rest of the season.

The Bulls are now top of the South African conference after Friday’s 41-35 win over the Rebels took them a point ahead of the Stormers, who had a weekend bye. Rebels flank Luke Jones has been suspended for two Super Rugby matches for a dangerous tip-tackle on wing Bjorn Basson, but the Bulls have problems of their own with flank Jacques Potgieter (damaged knee cap) and prop Frik Kirsten (broken hand) returning home with injuries.

Potgieter will be out for between six and eight weeks and Kirsten has been ruled out for six weeks. With prop Dean Greyling also headng home for the birth of his first child, Rayno Gerber will now join the team today.

The Sharks relied heavily on the kicking game to beat the Highlanders and they were fortunate that Lambie was in sublime goalkicking form in difficult, breezy conditions. Lambie goaled all eight of his kicks, landing seven penalties from various distances and then converting his own try.

The Sharks stood up strongly in the set pieces, and the breakdown collisions were fierce, but Lambie and scrumhalf Charl Mcleod made liberal use of the boot and little was seen of their back division.

The Highlanders, fielding a series of high kicks, had 63% of possession but they were kept under wraps by the resilient Sharks defence and spent long periods in their own half. The Sharks, in playing without the ball, made over 120 tackles while the Highlanders were called on to make just 47.

Playing for territory did pay off for the Sharks, keeping Lambie in range to kick his seven penalties, but there was too little rugby for the small crowd of 19 000.

The Sharks were also helped by the Highlanders’ high error rate, while a series of injuries resulted in them playing the final 10 minutes with only 14 men. Coach Jamie Joseph said later that Doug Tietjens (knee), replacement Elliot Dixon (chest) and centre Shaun Treeby (fractured cheekbone) had all sustained serious injuries which had ended their seasons.

The match was decided by the Sharks’ rush of 13 points in nine minutes midway through the second half and after the Highlanders, taking the ball through the phases and opening up the right flank, scored their only try to briefly take the lead (15-16).

But Lambie kicked his sixth penalty (18-16) and then the Sharks responded with their most effective rugby of the game. McLeod counter-attacked superbly from his own quarter, Keegan Daniel chipped into space and Lambie dotted down for the Sharks’ only try. Lambie kicked his seventh penalty and the Sharks, with a 12-point advantage, finally had some breathing space.

The Sharks face the Western Force in Durban on Saturday and coach John Plumtree said that, unlike the Highlanders, there were no new injuries to concern him.

Weekend results and scorers (home team first):

Played yesterday:

Crusaders 15 (6) — Penalties: Tom Taylor (5). Reds 11 (5): Tries: James Hanson. Penalties: Mike Harris (2)

Saturday:

Sharks 28 (15) – Tries: Pat Lambie. Conversions: Lambie: Penalties: Lambie (7). Highlanders 16 (9) — Tries: Kurt Baker. Conversions: Mike Delany. Penalties: Delany (3).

Cheetahs 17 (9) — Tries: Adriaan Strauss. Penalties: Sias Ebersohn (3), Tewis de Bruyn. Force 13 (6) –—Tries: Winston Stanley. Conversions: David Harvey. Penalties: Harvey (2)

Chiefs 34 (20) - Tries: Aaron Cruden, Craig Clarke, Lelia Masaga, Brendon Leonard. Conversions: Cruden (4). Penalties: Cruden (2). Lions 21 (7) – Tries: Cobus Grobbelaar (2), Josh Strauss. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3).

Brumbies 23 (13) – Tries: Henry Speight, Andrew Smith. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (2). Penalties: Lealiifano (3). Waratahs 6 (6) – Penalties: Brendan McKibbin (2)

Played Friday

Hurricanes 35 Blues 19

Rebels 35 Bulls 41

Bye: Stormers (RSA)

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

Friday: Blues v Lions 9.35 am

Waratahs v Bulls 11.40 am

Saturday: Highlanders v Hurricanes 9.35 am

Rebels v Crusaders 11.40 am

Sharks v Force 5.05 pm

Stormers v Cheetahs 7.10 pm

Sunday: Reds v Chiefs 8.10 am

Bye: Brumbies

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