Vodacom Super 14

Sharks run riot in Durban

2009-03-28 18:34
Sharks tryscorer JP Pietersen (Gallo Images)
Durban - The Sharks moved back to the top of the Super 14 log with a comprehensive 35-14 win over the Brumbies at ABSA Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

It was possibly the most compelling Sharks performance of the season thus far as they scored five tries to two against a Brumbies team that challenged in the middle to later stages of the first half but which was outplayed over the full 80 minutes.

The Sharks had clinched their fourth try, the bonus point, as early as the 54th minute, with flank Jacques Botes, so long an unsung hero of the Sharks, forcing his way over after scrumhalf Rory Kockott had taken a quick tap from a free kick near the Brumbies line.

The Sharks came second for much of the way in the possession stakes, but then that is a statistic that is often skewed by the phase play approach of the Australian teams. It was in the territorial battle that the Sharks were the Brumbies’ masters, and they scored two outstanding tries in the first half from turn-over ball.

The first came in the 14th minute, and was set up by a big tackle from Kockott, who then recovered to put in the flat pass that put JP Pietersen in for a clear run for the line down the left flank. On the replay it looked as though the pass may have been forward, but then there might have been some justice in it as Pietersen was denied a try earlier by what can best be described as a marginal TMO call.

There were several outstanding individual performances from the Sharks, led by centre Adrian Jacobs, who like in the game against the Blues a couple of weeks ago, appeared to be in the thick of things during every attack. Kockott had a much better game than he did against the Reds a fortnight ago, while skipper Johann Muller got through a big work-load on a day when the Sharks loose-forwards were also always prominent.

Stefan Terblanche may be a veteran but he still looks the form fullback in the country, something that dates back now into the last Currie Cup season. It was Terblanche who was onto the final inside pass from Kankowski as the Sharks exploited another turn-over opportunity from 60 metres out, with Jacobs and Botes featuring strongly, in the 33rd minute.

It was not all good for the Sharks, however, and in the period before that the Brumbies looked to be gaining the upper hand, giving the Sharks a hard time at the breakdowns while exploiting what still looks to be a lax first line defensive effort from the Durbanites. Christian Lealiifano scored a try by going through a huge gap with an outstanding individualistic effort to draw the scores level halfway through the half, and the Brumbies had a couple more opportunities that they just couldn’t convert into points.

Flyhalf Frans Steyn had a scratchy game with his field kicking, and as always he mixed some great moments with some mediocre ones. He was at the heart of some of the Sharks defensive errors.

The message that went out to the Sharks at half-time was that they needed to build up sustained pressure to force the Brumbies into mistakes, and that is what happened immediately after half-time. After leading 14-7 at the break and the Brumbies still being very much into it, a prolonged attack eventually saw Kockott wriggle over from near the line to make it 21-7 and effectively the Australian team were out of it after that.

The Brumbies did score a late consolation try through replacement prop Salesi Ma’afu, but not before Ryan Kankowski had rounded off the fifth Sharks score which was again the product of the Sharks exerting pressure near the Brumbies line and forcing the visitors into error.

It was the first Sharks win over the Brumbies in three years, and although the Bulls still have a game in hand on them, the Sharks have a strong platform from which to launch a winning home run that will ensure an ABSA Stadium semi-final on 23 May.


Tries - JP Pietersen, Stefan Terblanche, Rory Kockott, Jacques Botes, Ryan Kankowski. Conversions - Kockott (5).

Tries - Christian Lealiifano, Salesi Ma'afu. Conversions - Mark Gerrard (2)


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