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Sharks edge Rebels in error-strewn affair


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 29 May 2015 at 21:11
Tagged with : , , , , ,

The Sharks have beaten the Rebels 25-21 in Durban, in a Super Rugby match that did little to raise interest.

Both teams engaged in a see-saw contest of trying to see who could commit the most handling errors for close on half an hour, with any momentum either side hoped to achieve completely stifled by a baffling inability to hold the ball in contact. Referee Jaco van Heerden’s “anything goes” approach at the breakdown, where scant regard was paid offside lines and entering from behind the last feet a seemingly quaint and outdated concept, certainly helped to ensure that neither halfback enjoyed anything resembling quick ball, but on a night when the humidity was under control and only a little dew served to complicate matters, the handling was rather awful.

As is so often the case at Kings Park of late, it was a flurry of cards late in the opening period that finally brought the crowd to life. Jannie du Plessis reacted in frustration after a block, slapping opposite number Laurie Weeks with an open hand. Weeks lost his rag and retaliated with a flurry of punches, four of which appeared to connect with the big Bok’s facial area. To his credit, van Heerden got this one spot on, showing du Plessis a yellow card for inciting the foray and Weeks a straight red for his blatant acts of thuggery. With the Sharks certain to be a man to the good for the entire second half, one would have hoped they’d press on and score a comfortable victory; at the time of the incident, a Lionel Cronje penalty was all that separated the teams.

S’bura Sithole, one of the few Sharks who looked like he had “come to play” duly powered over for an impressive try minutes later, but the good work was undone just before the break, with Rebels captain Scott Higginbotham brushing off a poor tackle attempt from Cronje to bring his side back within three.

One felt this was always going to be a tough game for the Sharks, coming after a long tour and with a number of combination disrupted due to injury. apart from the loss of Stephan Lewies and Frans Steyn, the team also saw Ryan Kankowski and Willem Alberts withdraw just before kick off, with Odwa Ndungane and Beast Mtawarira going off in the first quarter. Those who remained looked lethargic, perhaps none more so that Mouritz Botha and Renaldo Bothma, each of whom turned in rather lacklustre showing on the night. The second half “blitz” failed to materialise and it was the visitors, despite their numerical disadvantage, who were looking the strong er team when a freak Lwazi Mvovo intercept try opened some daylight again.

Heimar Williams scored what must surely be the try of the season seven minutes later, the replacement centre weaving, darting and jinking past five defenders to eventually power over the line for his first at this level. Cronje’s conversion put the hosts comfortably ahead at 22-7, but as is so often the case, in pushing for the bonus point score, the Sharks lost defensive structure and ended up conceding shortly afterwards, with Higginbotham picking up a second just short of the hour mark.

A late Cronje penalty restored a bigger buffer, allowing the Sharks to retain the lead despite Bryce Heggarty’s late try.

The Sharks squad will now have a week off and look to recharge the batteries ahead of the last game of the season; a Kings Park clash with the conference-leading Stormers in a fortnight’s time.

Sharks (25): Tries S’bura Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo, Heimar Williams. Conversions Lionel Cronje (2). Penalties Cronje (2).
Rebels (21): Tries Scott Higginbotham (2), Bryce Heggarty. Conversions Jack Debreczeni (3).



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