Sharks’ discipline disappoints Muir

2008-04-21 00:00

The Sharks’ 2008 Super 14 unbeaten record came to an abrupt end as the Brumbies overcame an 18-7 half-time deficit to score a 27-21 victory at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.

It was one-way traffic in the first half as the Sharks muscled the Brumbies off their own ball and put together some sublime passages of play to set up an emphatic lead only to have it hauled in and eventually overtaken in a cruel accumulation of events after the break.

Injuries to Brad Barritt (shoulder) and Steven Sykes (ankle) necessitated an early rotation off the bench. A pair of yellow cards added to their woes and, combined with a purple passage of nearly the entire second half from the Brumbies, saw the home side canter in to win by six points.

It was also a second half dominated by the whistle of referee Bryce Lawrence, and the Sharks could do nothing right.

He penalised them incessantly and they had to suffer the ignominy of playing with 14 men for 20 minutes of the half as well as having to watch their lead disappear in front of them.

Skills coach Grant Bashford admitted after the match that the Sharks had no one but themselves to blame for the loss.

“The team is disappointed with themselves. It was up to us and we can’t point fingers at anyone else. That’s it.

“It was in the way we managed the referee rather than the decisions he made which brought us down.

“It was a frustration by the players and the message in the changerooms afterwards was that we can’t look anywhere but at ourselves.

“We had enough of a buffer at the end of the first half to win the game comfortably, and then the referee got to us.”

Coach Dick Muir added similar sentiments, saying: “It was stupid play on our behalf”.

“We gave away too many penalties, got underneath the ref’s skin and the game changed.”

It was a game of two halves in almost identical fashion, each team dominating one period of play.

The Sharks’ problem was that they simply did not have any ball to play with in the second half, while the patience of the Brumbies — at one stage they strung 17 phases together in one movement — and their numerical advantage proved decisive.

The yellow cards handed out by referee Bryce Lawrence to the in-form Ryan Kankwoski and Francois Steyn for technical infringments at the ruck certainly did not help matters and Muir admitted that his team should have “wised up”.

“It’s something that we were well aware of before the game.

“Bryce Lawrence we know is a referee who likes to have control and I felt that we allowed him to turn against us.

“I am disappointed in the team’s discipline.”

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