Sharks sink in rankings

2013-04-22 00:00

THE Sharks, picking up injuries at a quicker rate than they are scoring tries, have been overtaken by the Bulls and the Cheetahs in Super Rugby’s South African conference following another disjointed attacking display in defeat at King’s Park in Durban on Saturday night.

John Plumtree’s team, for the fifth time in eight outings, failed to score a try as they went down 12-6 to the Cheetahs, who have drawn level with them on log points, but are ahead because they have won more games.

Overtaking both of them are the Bulls who brought Luke Watson’s Kings to earth in Port Elizabeth with a whitewash 34-0 win — and four tries — on Saturday.

Both games were played in wet, slippery conditions. The Kings at least had the satisfaction of filling their 48 000-seater stadium, while two men (without their dogs) watched the Sharks’ latest ham-fisted and unsuccessful efforts to score tries at King’s Park.

The Sharks battled through the first half after losing Springbok loosehead Beast Mtawarira to a calf muscle tear in the 24th minute.

They conceded the only try of the first half when they were hard on attack, dropped the ball and a hack upfield rewarded the pace of Cheetahs wing Raymond Rhule with a try.

But the Sharks had every opportunity to win in the second half when Herbst, switched from tighthead to loosehead, proved a more effective loosehead than the hapless Jannie du Plessis, while flyhalf Pat Lambie improved his tactical kicking game and placed the Cheetahs under some pressure.

But the Sharks, unable to play the ball, or their team-mates, into space, simply could not finish off a number of promising sorties and time and again they were denied by the willing, scrambling Cheetahs defence.

The final move of the game was the story of the match, if not the Sharks’ season. Centre Paul Jordaan produced a slashing break and the Sharks, winning the ball on the Cheetahs’ line and with a massive overlap, seemed certain to score. But scrumhalf Cobus Reinach took the ball back into heavy traffic and the Cheetahs held up the maul to win the game.

The only try of the second half came when lively wing Willie le Roux intercepted a tentative Pieter-Steph du Toit pass to score when the Sharks (and the small crowd) believed the referee was playing an advantage after a blatant Cheetahs knock-on.

The match officials left the field to boos, and Plumtree did say later that there were some “interesting” calls, but the Sharks coach made it clear that it was his team’s poor option-taking and inability to take their try-scoring chances, and not New Zealand referee Jonathon White, which were behind the defeat.

The Cheetahs, apart from taking advantage of the two Sharks’ mistakes, produced little on attack, but their setpiece was solid and they were strong at the breakdown where flank Heinrich Brüssow enjoyed himself.

The Sharks’ back three of fullback Riaan Viljoen, who was superb under the high ball and on the counter, Odwa Ndungane and wing Andries Coetzee, until he dislocated his shoulder after 73 minutes, were solid in fielding the many kicks, but the power of injured wing JP Pietersen was sorely missed.

The Bulls, playing with pace and power, blew away the Kings in the first half, leading 20-0 after the break and applying most of the pressure.

The Kings refused to lie down, but two more tries in the second half — the fourth after the final hooter by wing Akona Ndungane — secured the bonus point with the man of the match award going to young centre Jan Serfontein.

The Brumbies stayed just in front of the Reds in the Australian conference after playing out an exciting 19-19 draw in Brisbane.

Teenage flanker Liam Gill barged over for a 76th-minute try which earned the Reds a share of the points.

Defending champions the Chiefs suffered their second successive loss, going down 20-25 to the Waratahs.

And the Blues, with four points for their bye, are on top of the New Zealand conference.

In the first game on Saturday, the Crusaders beat the Highlanders 24-8 in Christchurch.

Saturday’s scores and scorers (home team first):

Sharks 6 – Penalty goals: Pat Lambie (2). Cheetahs 12 – Tries: Raymond Rhule, Willie le Roux. Conversion: Burton Francis

Kings – 0 Bulls 34 – Tries: Jan Serfontein, Jano Vermaak, Jacques Potgieter, Akona Ndungane. Conversions: Morné Steyn (2), Louis Fouché (2). Penalty goal: Steyn. Drop goal: Steyn.

Other weekend results:

Hurricanes 22 Force 16

Waratahs 25 Chiefs 20

Crusaders 24 Highlanders 8

Reds 19 Brumbies 19

Byes: Blues, Melbourne Rebels, Stormers.

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

Friday

Hurricanes v Stormers, 9:35 am

Reds v Blues, 11:40 am

Saturday

Chiefs v Sharks, 9:35 am

Brumbies v Force, 11:40 am

Bulls v Waratahs, 5:05 pm

Cheetahs v Kings, 7:10 pm

Sunday

Crusaders v Rebels, 5:05 am

LOG

P W D L PF PA PD TF TA Bts Pts

Brumbies 9 6 2 1 240 156 84 22 16 3 35

Blues 7 4 0 3 189 140 49 23 12 7 31

Bulls 8 5 0 3 206 171 35 17 16 4 28

Reds 9 6 1 2 191 178 13 20 12 3 33

Chiefs 8 5 0 3 240 169 71 25 17 6 30

Cheetahs 9 6 0 3 199 201 -2 20 19 3 27

Sharks 8 5 0 3 178 127 51 13 12 3 27

Hurricanes 8 5 0 3 199 202 -3 20 22 3 27

Crusaders 8 4 0 4 213 161 52 22 13 6 26

Waratahs 8 4 0 4 187 220 -33 17 22 1 25

Stormers 7 3 0 4 154 153 1 13 9 4 24

Rebels 8 2 0 6 162 258 -96 16 33 3 19

Force 9 2 0 7 162 208 -46 15 19 4 16

S. Kings 8 2 1 5 166 256 -90 16 28 1 15

H’landers 8 0 0 8 150 236 -86 15 24 2 6

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