Nightmare evening for Sharks

2012-04-07 00:00

THE Sharks had a nightmare evening in New Plymouth where their breakdown woes returned to haunt them and they were thumped 42-18 by the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby game yesterday.

The Sharks had enough of the game in terms of territory and possession, but on more than half-a-dozen occasions were penalised at the breakdown within sniffing distance of the Hurricanes’ line.

The many turnovers also cost them numerous attacking opportunities while presenting the spirited Hurricanes with the chances to run the ball back at them on the counter.

“It was a tough evening,” captain Keegan Daniel said later and Sharks supporters everywhere will echo that sentiment. “We turned over far too much ball but credit to the Hurricanes for taking advantage. Defensively we were also slack.”

Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith agreed that the turnovers were critical.

“We know we can score from everywhere and we showed a lot of character and heart in keeping out the big Sharks runners.”

The Sharks were at their frustrating worst in the first half, playing most of the rugby but also piling error upon error, conceding four penalties when hard on attack and missing tackles to concede three tries.

The Hurricanes could scarcely believe their luck and led 20-3 at the break after spending most of the game in their half and with only scraps of possession.

The Sharks started strongly, taking the ball through the phases but then turning over possession when in a dominant position.

After just 14 minutes Hurricanes fullback Andre Taylor, running an excellent line, erasing through the Sharks defence for a try, which Beauden Barrett converted.

The Sharks came straight back and Frederic Michalak did goal a penalty. But the Hurricanes found holes again in the Sharks defence and were awarded the first of two questionable tries when somehow the match officials, in a pile of bodies, saw a try being scored by flank Jack Lam. Barrett converted and then added a penalty when Jannie du Plessis retaliated with a punch (17-3). A second penalty by Barrett and then a try by wing Julian Savea, again after the Sharks had been threatening to score, took the Hurricanes into a 25-3 half-time lead.

The Sharks came out firing in the second half as Michalak immediately kicked a penalty and then, by way of a change, worked the ball through multiple phases without conceding a penalty for JP Pietersen to score (25-13).

But, as is their wont, they again immediately allowed the Hurricanes to hit back with a try by centre Conrad Smith although he appeared to lose the ball in dotting down the ball (30-13).

Fellow-centre Tom Bateman joined the Hurricanes’ party when he beat Sharks fullback Riaan Viljoen in the air and ran through to score and the home side were ahead 35-13 entering the final quarter.

There was a third try for the Sharks when hooker Craig Burden burst away from a driving maul to score in the corner (35-18) but it was far too little far too late.

Indeed, it was the Hurricanes who had the last laugh when the Sharks tried to run the ball from their own line in the search for a fourth try bonus point, Willem Alberts lost possession and replacement Jeremy Thrush scored under poles (42-18).

The Sharks had a satisfying evening in the set pieces but it was their inability to win possession at the attacking breakdown which ultimately brought them down in an untidy, undignified heap yesterday.


Hurricanes: Tries — Andre Taylor, Jack Lam, Julian Savea, Conrad Smith, Tim Bateman, Jeremy Thrush. Conversions — Beauden Barrett (3). Penalties — Barrett (2).

Sharks: Tries — JP Pietersen, Craig Burden. Conversion — Frederic Michalak. Penalties — Michalak (2).

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