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Gutsy Sharks dig deep in Christchurch

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 17 May 2014 at 11:48
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Sharks have overcome the early loss of Jean Deysel to a red card, to record a first ever win in Christchurch, beating the Crusaders by 30 points to 25.

Against an uncharacteristically flat and inaccurate home side, the Sharks opened the scoring, as a good Frans Steyn break off a lineout saw S’bura Sithole gallop over for the first try. Steyn’s conversion gave his team a seven point lead in the opening ten minutes, but that lead was to be short-lived as Crusaders flyhalf Colin Slade sauntered over for a soft score not five minutes later. Slade, who had an on-off night with the boot, had missed a penalty just before, but succeeded with the conversion to level the scores at 7-all.

The match, though, appeared to be over as a contest as early as the 17th minute. The Crusdares, guilty of jersey pulling all night, went a step further as flanker Jordan Taufua held on to Deysel’s boot after a ruck. The veteran flanker at first kicked out to free himself, then lost his head and appeared to deliberately stamp on his opposite number’s face. In the face of overwhelming video evidence – and a baying crowd – referee Rohan Hoffman duly dismissed the Sharks’ number 7, leaving his team with a mountain to climb.

Bismarck du Plessis admitted afterwards that that moment proved as much a turning point in his side’s favour as one would have expected ti to be for the opposition. The Sharks were galvanised and put bodies on the lines for 60 minutes like they’ve seldom done before against a hesitant and unsettled Crusaders outfit who found rhythm hard to come by. Slade slotted two further penalties to eke out a 13-7 lead, before Steyn brought the Sharks back to just 10-13 down on the stroke of half time.

An opportunistic try by Cobus Reinach, who got in the way of a Crusaders pass, kneed the ball forward before using his pace to sprint clear and score, saw the game turned on its head. Steyn’s conversion put the Sharks up 4, but despite the aggression and commitment shown, the Sharks continues to commit errors and indiscretions, allowing Slade ample opportunity to close the gap. Slade and Steyn traded penalties, before the hammer blow appeared to have fallen – missed touch from a penalty resulted in a counter from the home side which only broke down thanks to an early tackle from Willem Alberts. The Sharks lost a second man – this time to a yellow card – and Slade retook the lead.

Again the Sharks were given hope, with replacement pivot Tim Swiel restoring a 1-point lead and again that hope was dashed as Hoffman saw fit to penalise them immediately afterwards. The home side appeared to have the narrowest of triumphs sewn up, as they lead 25-23 with just minutes to play. The Sharks, though, were not done, with replacement hooker Kyle Cooper having the final say as he scored a season first try off the back of a textbook lineout drive.

Some frantic defence in the final minutes did not go unrewarded, with the Crusaders ending the game in fitting style, by knocking the ball on as they had so many times previously in the game.

Crusaders (25): Try Colin Slade. Conversion Slade. Penalties Slade (6).
Sharks (30): Tries S’bura Sithole, Cobus Reinach, Kyle Cooper. Conversions Frans Steyn (2), Tim Swiel. Penalties Steyn (2), Swiel.


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