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Commentary by Sport24's Herman Mostert
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Sharks flank Marcell Coetzee on the charge... (Gallo Images)
Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis received the best player award.
The Sharks have qualified for the Super Rugby semi-finals for the 8th time in their history! They will face the Crusaders in Christchurch next weekend, while the Waratahs will host the Brumbies in Sydney.
FULL-TIME: Sharks 31-27 Highlanders
Well done to the Sharks. They were the better team. Their utter dominance at scrum time proved key in this victory!
80' - The Sharks successfully take the restart and McLeod sends it to Lambie who boots it out. The Sharks win!
79' - PENALTY slotted by Steyn.
Sharks 31-27 Highlanders
78' - Steyn will line up with 62 seconds left on the clock...
There will be time for one more play after this.
78' - Oh dear, Chavhanga drops the ball with an open tryline in front of him. But referee Steve Walsh goes back for a penalty advantage.
77' - With 3 minutes left, the Sharks are playing the game in the right side of the field - inside the Highlanders 22m area.
75' - The Highlanders try to run it out from deep inside their own territory but knock it on after some good pressure defence from the Sharks...
73' - The Sharks are in front with 7 minutes remaining!
73' - PENALTY slotted by Steyn.
Sharks 28-27 Highlanders
72' - Yet again the Highlanders scrum collapses in front of their own tryline. Penalty to the Sharks. Steyn to line up an easy kick...
Adriaanse and Chadwick are now on at prop for the Sharks, by the way.
71' - Oh dear, Jean Deysel knocks the ball on with the tryling begging... He did remarkably well to barge through a few defenders close to the tryline but lost the ball as he stretched out to score.
70' - Sharks throwing everything at the Highlanders now, but key errors are halting their charge...
Sharks have been good in parts, but handling skills in SA rugby are still lacking. Some appalling drops tonight - David Moseley
67' - Lambie will play flyhalf.
67' - Sharks subs: McLeod on for Reinach and Lambie on for Sithole.
63' - CONVERSION by Sopoaga.
Sharks 25-27 Highlanders
62' - TRY to the Highlanders!
Centre Phil Burleigh scores another sublime try for the Highlanders.
It started after Reinach failed to kick out which enabled Ben Smith and Patrick Osborne to counter from halfway.
58' - JP Koen is now on at prop for the Highlanders. He was born in Springs and played for the Valke back in the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
The 30-year-old simply cannot scrum any worse than the Highlanders have tonight...
57' - Steyn misses his conversion attempt to the right...
Sharks 25-20 Highlanders
55' - TRY to the Sharks!
The Sharks attack on the blindside and replacement wing Tonderai Chavhanga sprints about 35m to score in the corner. Pace to burn! And he didn't even pull a hamstring!
53' - CONVERSION by Steyn.
Sharks 20-20 Highlanders
52' - TRY AWARDED to the Sharks!
Bismarck du Plessis is credited with the try after pouncing in a loose ball which spilled out at the base of the scrum...
52' - TMO CALL
The Highlanders scrum crumbles right on their own goal-line. The Sharks pounce and think they may have scored...
51' - No they can't. JP Pietersen loses it in contact after several phases. The Sharks' composure is letting them down a bit here tonight...
50' - Sharks inside the red zone. Can they finish?
Frans Steyn launches a kick down-field... (Gallo Images)
48' - Sharks sub: Tonderai Chavhanga on for Lwazi Mvovo at left wing.
47' - PENALTY slotted by Sopoaga.
Sharks 13-20 Highlanders
45' - Kickable penalty for the Highlanders as Willem Alberts is caught off-side inside the red zone...
The Highlanders got into the favourable field position after SP Marais let a ball bounce which ended up bouncing horribly for the hosts.
44' - This time there's some effective maul defence by the Highlanders - and again they counter up-field...
43' - The Sharks win a penalty close to the touchline when the Kiwis transgress at a Sharks driving maul. The Sharks opt for five-metre a lineout...
42' - The first scrum of the second half again yields a Sharks penalty...
42' - Highlanders sub: Tom Franklin on at lock for Jarrad Hoeata.
41' - The Sharks must just go back to basics here. Play with the forwards and not give the Highlanders any loose ball to counter-attack with.
18:05 - Welcome back for the second half as Sopoaga starts play!
I think if the 'Landers get first try of 2nd half, big question will be: do the Sharks have another gameplan? - Rob Houwing
HALF-TIME: Sharks 13-17 Highlanders
The Sharks must be wondering just how they find themselves behind at the break...
40' - CONVERSION by Sopoaga.
40' - TRY to the Highlanders!
Prop Kane Hames rounds off a simply remarkable team try. It comes after the Highlanders took a quick tap inside their own 22m area...!
39' - The Sharks are penalised at the ensuing driving maul and the Highlanders counter up-field...
38' - Smith's decision backfires after the Sharks win a penalty on the ground...
A brilliant punt down-field from Steyn gives the Sharks a lineout on the Highlanders 22m line.
37' - The Highlanders win a kickable penalty but scrumhalf Smith takes a quick tap instead...
36' - Steyn's penalty attempt hits the right-hand upright. The Highlanders gather and clear...
34' - Another penalty at scrum time for the Sharks. Steyn will line up a tough kick from close to the touchline...
33' - Fekitoa also scored a brilliant individual try in the game earlier this season when the Kiwis upset the Sharks 34-18 at the same ground. For the Sharks' sake, lets hope this is not a bad omen...
32' - Sopoaga lands the tricky CONVERSION.
Sharks 13-10 Highlanders
31' - TRY to the Highlanders!
All Black centre Malakai Fekitoa scores a brilliant individual try after bursting through the Sharks midfield defence. He sprinted about 35m to round off...
30' - Sharks sub: Jean Deysel has replaced Anton Bresler, who appears to have picked up a rib injury. He looks in severe pain.
29' - PENALTY converted by Steyn.
Sharks 13-3 Highlanders
28' - A Sharks penalty in range after the Highlanders go off-side at another dominant Sharks driving maul...
Steyn, knowing he has the advantage, attempts a cross-kick which doesn't work out, but referee Steve Walsh goes back for the penalty.
26' - SP Marais lines up a drop goal from halfway. It's a terrible kick but ends up working out fine as it rolls out in the corner close to the Highlanders tryline!
25' - PENALTY converted by Lima Sopoaga.
Sharks 10-3 Highlanders
24' - A kickable penalty for the Highlanders as Jannie du Plessis is caught off-side in the middle of the park...
Lima Sopoaga will line up from about 35m out...
23' - A Sharks free-kick at the ensuing scrum gives them the chance to get out of the danger zone. My word, these Kiwis are struggling at scrum time...
22' - The visitors are almost over, only a late knock on saves the Sharks - and SP Marais' blushes...
21' - A mistake from SP Marias who kicks out directly into touch to give the Highlanders a great attacking chance in the red zone...
18' - The Highlanders launch a counter attack via a brilliant break from scrumhalf Aaron Smith. Only some good scrambling Sharks defence keeps them out...
17' - NO TRY!
Replays show Du Plessis' knee touched the ground before he got up and attempted to score. A penalty is awarded to the Highlanders instead for a double movement by the Bok prop.
Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis is not happy, but the correct call was made...
17' - TMO CALL!
Jannie du Plessis appears to have gone over under the posts, but the TMO is called into action. I think it's a try...
15' - The Sharks are almost in again but Sithole is tackled out in the corner.
However, a skew lineout throw close to their own tryline then puts the Kiwis under more pressure.
The Sharks opt for another scrum...
Highlanders set piece a massive concern early on - Laurie Fisher
14' - CONVERSION slotted by Steyn.
Sharks 10-0 Highlanders
12' - TRY to the Sharks!
Marcell Coetzee barges over after a dominating driving maul following a lineout.
It's Coetzee's 8th Super Rugby try and 3rd this season.
10' - The Sharks absolutely demolish another Highlanders scrum! They get a penalty close to the touchline. They set up a lineout...
9' - Kankowski steals a Highlanders lineout to bring the Sharks inside the red zone, but a later knock-on halts the hosts' charge...
8' - The second scrum of the game is also a solid one by the hosts. That's an area they MUST target today...
5' - The Sharks win a penalty in the first scrum of the game. It gives Steyn the opportunity to get them out of their own half...
4' - A bit of an aerial ding-dong battle going on at present. Both teams reluctant to run...
2' - That last penalty has taken Steyn past 150 points this season.
2' - PENALTY slotted by Steyn.
Sharks 3-0 Highlanders
1' - An early kickable penalty to the Sharks who attacked strongly inside the Highlanders 22m area. Steyn will line up, about 20m in from touch.
17:06 - It's a real poor crowd in at Kings Park. Plenty of open seats for a knockout game!
17:06 - Frans Steyn gets the game started!
17:01 - The Highlanders will be in their predominantly green away kit today, with the Sharks in their customary black and white.
The Highlanders going through their paces prior to kick-off - Alistair Hogg
LATE CHANGE TO SHARKS LINE-UP
Lock Stephan Lewies has pulled out for the Sharks shortly before the game. He is replaced by Ettienne Oosthuizen with Tera Mtembu coming in on the bench.
Lewies has a tendinitis problem in his knee.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY...
Sport24 Editor Garrin Lambley and Chief Writer Rob Houwing give their views - and predictions - on the Sharks v Highlanders playoff clash
Click here to hear their thoughts...
DID YOU KNOW?
If the Sharks beat the Highlanders today, they will play the Crusaders in Christchurch in the semi-finals?
JAKE LOOKS TO GERMANY
Sharks coach Jake White has drawn inspiration from 2014 Soccer World Cup champions Germany ahead of his team's playoff clash against the Highlanders.
Click HERE for the full article...
FOUR KEY DUELS
A midfield match-up, the scrumhalves, the battle between the pilferers on the deck and an arm-wrestle at scrum-time come under focus as Sport24 pinpoints a quartet of areas that could tilt the balance between the Sharks and Highlanders.
Click HERE to read the full article...
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Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
2014: Highlanders won 34-18, Durban
2013: Highlanders won 25-22, Dunedin
2012: Sharks won 28-16, Durban
2010: Sharks won 30-16, Dunedin
2009: Sharks won 23-15, Durban
2008: Sharks won 19-17, Dunedin
2007: Sharks won 23-16, Durban
2006: Sharks won 26-11, Dunedin
2005: Highlanders won 43-7, Durban
2004: Sharks won 36-35, Dunedin
15 SP Marais, 14 Sibusiso Sithole, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frans Steyn, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Ettienne Oosthuizen, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Tera Mtembu, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Tonderai Chavhanga
15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Kane Hames
Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 JP Koen, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Tom Franklin, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 Gareth Evans
Welcome to Sport24's LIVE scoring and interactive commentary on today's Super Rugby match between the Sharks and Highlanders in Durban!