Sharks recover old spark

2013-04-29 00:00

THE Bulls and Cheetahs picked up their expected weekend wins to stretch away from the Sharks at the top of the Super Rugby log.

The Bulls, badly exposed in the scrums, relied on their superior lineout and a 25-point contribution from flyhalf Morné Steyn to overcome the enterprising Waratahs 30-19 at Loftus on Saturday evening.

The Bulls are now on 33 log points, one ahead of the Cheetahs, who were left ruing a missed bonus point try as they beat the Southern Kings 26-12 in Bloemfontein.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the final scoreline, and Steyn’s try on the hooter, had flattered his team.

“We kept our cool, forced the big moments and turnovers, and that try at the end is why the score ballooned,” Ludeke said.

“We were behind with 10 minutes left in the match and they had all the momentum and the initiative, but we showed character in the match.”

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika ripped into Argentine referee Francisco Pastrana’s officiating.

He said the referee had robbed his team of momentum.

“I am very disappointed with the officiating, the communication, the language, the ability to decipher and the correct decisions,” Cheika said.

“We made plenty of mistakes but we were still dominating the attack side of the game.”

Bulls captain Pierre Spies could not find fault with the referee, but admitted “when the result goes your way you are always happy”.

The schizophrenic Sharks recovered from a nightmarish start — they trailed 24-0 after just 16 minutes – to seriously threaten the champion Chiefs in Hamilton. After closing to 24-19 at the break, and then 34-29 after 78 minutes, they finally lost 37-29. But they did break their try- scoring duck after 240 minutes of rugby by running in four tries for a bonus point.

The Sharks, with a makeshift, much-changed team, battled to settle, but their problems surfaced in defence rather than attack and the Chiefs romped through for three early tries.

Once they had secured field position, their solid setpiece troubled the Chiefs, setting up lineout drives and allowing loaned flank Derick Minnie to score twice. A good scrum allowed flyhalf Pat Lambie to break the gainline for a try by talented number eight Tera Mtembu, one of the more impressive performers on the day.

Replacement hooker Kyle Cooper made the running, and prop Wiehahn Herbst sold an extravagant dummy, for Keegan Daniel to score the bonus point try on the hour (26-34). But, in the heat of battle, Daniel then spoilt the good work, first by taking some poor options in the closing minutes and then by conceding a penalty after the final hooter which denied the Sharks a second bonus point.

Prop Herbst performed admirably out of position on the loosehead while tighthead Jannie du Plessis had one of his better games this season. Craig Burden and Charl McLeod also stood up strongly as the Sharks finally found some of their old spark.

The one bonus point left the Sharks on 28 log points, and just ahead of the Stormers who edged the Hurricanes 18-16 on Friday.

Cheetahs hooker and captain Adriaan Strauss said he was satisfied with the 14-point win over the Kings.

“We twice gave ourselves an opportunity to score the fourth try, but we just couldn’t finish.”

The Cheetahs now have a bye after 10 successive games.

The Brumbies continued as log pacesetters with a six-try, 41-7 win over the Western Force while the Chiefs are now in second spot.

The seven-time champions Crusaders, at home, were given a nasty fright by the lowly Rebels before winning 30-26 yesterday.

The Rebels outscored the Crusaders three tries to two but centre Tom Taylor proved the difference. He kicked six penalties, three into the strong wind in the closing quarter after the Rebels had led 26-21.

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Chiefs 37 – Tries: Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Bundee Aki, Tim Nanai-Williams (2). Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (4). Penalty goals: Anscombe (2), Aaron Cruden.

Sharks 29 – Tries: Derick Minnie (2), Tera Mtembu, Keegan Daniel. Conversions: Pat Lambie (3). Penalty goal: Pat Lambie.

Bulls 30 – Tries: Francois Hougaard, Morné Steyn. Conversion: Steyn. Penalty goals: Steyn (6). Waratahs 19 – Tries: Bernard Foley, Israel Folau, Paddy Ryan. Conversions: Brendan McKibbin.

Cheetahs 26 – Tries: Raymond Rhule, Lappies Labuschagne, Willie le Roux. Conversion: Burton Francis. Penalty goals: Francis (3).Southern Kings 12 – Penalty goals: Demetri Catrakilis (4).

Other results (home team first)

Brumbies 41 Force 7

Crusaders 30 Rebels 26

Played Friday:

Hurricanes 16 Stormers 18

Reds 12 Blues 11

Bye: Highlanders

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

Friday:

Blues v Stormers 9.35 am

Rebels v Chiefs 11.40 am

Saturday

Highlanders v Sharks 9.35 am

Force v Reds 11.40 am

Kings v Waratahs 5.05 pm

Bulls v Hurricanes 7.10 pm

Yesterday

Brumbies v Crusaders 7.05 am

Bye: Cheetahs

COMBINED LOG:

P W D L PD BPts Pts

Brumbies 10 7 2 1 118 4 40

Chiefs 9 6 0 3 79 7 35

Bulls 9 6 0 3 46 4 32

Reds 10 7 1 2 14 3 37

Blues 8 4 0 4 48 8 32

Cheetahs 10 7 0 3 12 3 31

Crusaders 9 5 0 4 56 6 30

Sharks 9 5 0 4 43 4 28

Hurricanes 9 5 0 4 -5 4 28

Stormers 8 4 0 4 3 4 28

Waratahs 9 4 0 5 -44 1 25

Rebels 9 2 0 7 -100 4 20

Force 10 2 0 8 -80 4 16

Kings 9 2 1 6 -104 1 15

Highlanders 8 0 0 8 -86 2 10

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