What a shocker!

2014-04-20 15:00

The Sharks were due a bad game after a stirring start to the season but this win, which will rank as one of their worst of this campaign, was bad enough to make peeling an onion seem like fun.

They kept their unbeaten home record intact and stretched their lead to six points. But this was a game they need to be punished for. The Cheetahs were better than they usually are, but such was the gulf of quality between the teams that the Sharks were able to get away with this one.

There was a time when Kings Park was synonymous with soporific rugby and the first half was a throwback to the days when the Sharks could not score tries to save their lives.

It was a reminder of the 2004 clash between the Sharks and the Reds, which the Reds won 6-5, arguably the worst match in Super Rugby history.

On that day, the Sharks scored first but conspired to play some of the most insipid and uninspired rugby – and the Reds were not much better. To say anything of note happened in the first 40 would be an overstatement, with the only highlight being Tim Swiel’s full Super Rugby debut and his twinkle-toed runs that kept Frans Steyn busy.

That meant the Sharks were playing their fourth pivot in the season, signifying the KwaZulu-Natal outfit’s mounting casualty list. There was so much wrong with the first stanza that even a simple passing move was cheered by the jovial Easter weekend crowd that did not deserve the cabbage soup that was being dished out by the sides.

The high school Kearsney Easter Rugby Festival might be on a different planet in terms of skill, but the crowd would have been better served by taking the trip out to Botha’s Hill.

Tendai Mtawarira’s bullocking run gave the crowd enough time to scream “Beast” for longer than one phase. The Sharks were so poor, they could not make anything from it, especially against the most porous defence in the tournament.

Swiel did not help by missing two easy penalties as the Sharks had the lion’s share of the ball. They were not helped by Steyn’s refusal to pass to his outside centre Sibusiso Sithole. Oddly, when it was someone else, he found time to shovel the ball wide.

It was rather fitting that the first try of the game, in the 65th minute, was through a Steyn error, when his laboured kick was charged down by Hennie Daniller.

Ryno Benjamin was on hand to dot down in the corner. But the Cheetahs were down to 14 men when pilferer-in-chief Heinrich Brüssow was carded four minutes earlier for cynical infringements at the breakdown.

He was the reason the Sharks could not get going at all for the best part of the game, but also provided Steyn with penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking. The numerical advantage and the improved defensive effort took its toll on the visitors as Jean Deysel crashed over from close range.

Steyn completed the formalities as the teams returned to their tedium for the last 10 minutes. It was a performance that will have their Australasian opponents licking their lips should Jake White’s men reprise the horror of yesterday. After all, no South African team has won in the antipodes this season.

In Sydney, a try by Israel Folau within 28 seconds of kick-off made the difference as the Bulls went down 12-19 to the Waratahs.

In the final game of the day, played in Cape Town, the Stormers snapped their six-match losing streak as they ground out an 18-3 win against the Lions. The Stormers came out of the blocks firing, scoring 18 unanswered points as Damian de Allende and Nizaam Carr crossed the whitewash.

That was as good as it got for the Stormers as they contentedly sat back and tackled the Lions into submission. The visitors had no response, and only got a penalty from Marnitz Boshoff.

Other Super Rugby results


Hurricanes 39–20 Blues

Rebels 22–16 Force


Chiefs 17–18 Crusaders

Waratahs 19–12 Bulls

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