Sharks’ kicking ‘not good enough’

2011-03-21 00:00

THE Stormers celebrated at Loftus and the Cheetahs stunned the Waratahs in Sydney, but it was back to the drawing board for the Lions, who were beaten at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The Stormers, helped by the boot of flyhalf Peter Grant with six penalties, went clear at the top of the Super Rugby log by stunning the champion Bulls 23-13 in Pretoria, their first win at Loftus since 2003.

And in the upset of the tournament so far the Heinrich Brussow-inspired Cheetahs made a piece of history by winning their first game on Australian soil by toppling the much-fancied Waratahs 23-3.

Acting captain Wilhelm Steenkamp was delighted with the Cheetahs’ triumph.

“What a win,” he said. “It is our first win overseas. The guys stuck to their guns and there were no tries against us.”

The Reds went top of the Australian conference as a result of the Waratahs loss, dumping a poor Melbourne Rebels outfit 53-3.

The Stormers, helped by four points from their earlier bye, lead the Sharks — beaten 15-9 in the wet of Hamilton on Friday — by one log point.

The Cape Town team scored only their second try this season when Bryan Habana dotted down.

The Bok wing also had a hand in the Bulls’ only try when he missed the bobbing ball behind his line and wing Bjorn Basson scored.

The Crusaders flexed their muscles ahead of next Sunday’s game against the Sharks in London by thumping the Highlanders 44-13 in Dunedin, scoring six tries to one.

A superb finish saw the erratic Blues gain a 41-17 victory over the Hurricanes.

The Force also benefited from being on the road and they picked up their first win of the season in beating the disappointing Lions at a wet and slippery Ellis Park.

The unpredictable Elton Jantjies again battled for the Lions and it will be no surprise to see the veteran Andre Pretorius, who was impressive in the curtain-raiser, back in the flyhalf role at Ellis Park.

Still, the young flyhalf was not the only one struggling and he did not deserve the boos when he was replaced in the last quarter.

The Sharks wasted an excellent opportunity to cement their place at the top of the log when their forwards, and their tactical game, went missing in the second half against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

The Sharks arrived back in Durban late on Saturday and have five days to recover before leaving for London on Thursday.

Coach John Plumtree was critical of the Sharks’ kicking game.

“Our kicking game was not good enough. The Chiefs got reward from our poor kicking.

“They have superb counter-attacking backs, so we played into their hands a little bit there,” he said.

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Bulls 13 - Penalties: Morne Steyn (2), Try: Bjorn Basson. Conversion: Steyn; Stormers 23 - Penalties: Peter Grant (6), Try: Bryan Habana.

Lions 15 - Penalties: Elton Jantjies (4) Drop goal: Jantjies; Force 27 - Tries: Nick Cummins, Alfie Mafi. Conversion: Cameron Shepherd. Penalties: James O’Connor (5).

Waratahs 3 - Penalty: Kurtley Beale; Cheetahs 23 - Tries: Phillip Snyman, Sorel Pretorious. Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (2). Penalties: Ebersohn (3).

Highlanders 13 - Try: Adam Thomson. Conversion: Robbie Robinson. Penalties: Tony Brown (2);

Crusaders 44 - Tries: Robbie Fruean, Kieran Read, Israel Dagg (2), Kahn Fotuali’i, Wyatt Crockett. Conversions: Dan Carter (3). Matt Berquist. Penalties: Carter (2).

Blues 41 - Tries: Rene Ranger, Stephen Brett, Lachie. Munro, Alby Mathewson, Jared Payne. Conversions: Luke McAlister (2). Munro (3). Penalties: McAlister (2);

Hurricanes 17 - Try: Neemia Tialata. Penalties: Daniel Kirkpatrick (4).

Friday’s results:

Chiefs 15 Sharks 9; Reds 53 Rebels 3

Brumbies bye

Weekend fixtures (home team first, SA times):

Friday: Rebels vs Hurricanes 10.40 am

Saturday: Reds vs Cheetahs 6.40 am; Chiefs vs Blues 8.35 am; Brumbies vs Waratahs 10.40 am; Stormers vs Force 3 pm; Bulls vs Lions 5.05 pm

Sunday: Crusaders vs Sharks 5 pm

Bye: Highlanders

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