Sharks crash to heavy defeat
New Plymouth - The Hurricanes made light of limited possession to outscore the Sharks six tries to two in a feisty 42-18 Super Rugby victory on Friday.
Despite being starved of the ball and forced to make 74 tackles to the Sharks' 26 in the first half, the Hurricanes ran up a 25-3 lead by the break at Yarrow Stadium as they played with a strong breeze behind them.
The South Africans made a brief fight back after the turn, closing the gap to 25-13, but the Hurricanes were not going to make the same mistake as last week, when they squandered a 21-point lead against the Cheetahs.
This time they made the Sharks pay dearly for a high unforced error count as they added a further 17 points into the wind.
"There's a lot of teamwork that goes into that and we work really hard as a unit defensively and that's what creates a lot of those opportunities when we get turnovers," said captain Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes' fourth win.
"We knew playing into the wind we would have to knuckle down and we knew they were a side that could score those points and get back in the game so I think it was a lot of character to keep knocking them over, they're big boys."
The opening try was the result of a defensive lapse by the Sharks when Hurricanes fullback Andre Taylor was able to beat three on a 30-metre angled run to the line.
A Hurricanes counter-attack with turnover ball produced their second try when loose forwards Jack Lam and Karl Lowe drove over the line, with Lowe awarded the try.
In a match with several niggling incidents off the ball, the try was followed by an all-in brawl, which started with a scuffle between Lowe and Jannie du Plessis and ended with both teams being white-carded.
On the stroke of half-time Sharks prop Dale Chadwick was penalised a metre short of the tryline, allowing the Hurricanes to sweep downfield with Julian Savea scoring the try.
Two conversions and two penalties to Beauden Barrett and a sole penalty by Frederic Michalak saw the Hurricanes ahead at the turn.
The Sharks were immediately on attack when they had the wind after the break and within four minutes a Michalak penalty and a converted JP Pietersen try had reduced the gap to 25-13.
But it was a short-lived burst from the South Africans as the Hurricanes bounced back with two tries from chip kicks down the left wing to put the result beyond doubt.
Smith scored the bonus-point try when he latched on to a kick from halfback TJ Perenara and the second was a solo kick-and-catch effort by Tim Bateman as the Hurricanes again countered off more turnover ball.
Wing-turned-hooker Craig Burden scored a try in the corner to make it 35-18 with 15 minutes remaining, but the Sharks never looked like bridging the gap and the final word went to replacement Hurricanes lock Jeremy Thrush, who scored on full time.
The Hurricanes picked up a full-house of five points for their victory and moved to third in the New Zealand Conference and fifth in the Combined log.
The Sharks left empty-handed and stayed third in the South African Conference, but dropped to eighth in the Combined standings.
In next weekend's Round 8 action, the Hurricanes enjoy a bye, while the Sharks travel to Auckland to face the Blues.
15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Jack Lam, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 James Broadhurst, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben May
Substitutes: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Charlie Ngatai
15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Louis Ludik, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Tim Whitehead, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Jandre Marais, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Craig Burden, 1. Dale Chadwick
Substitutes: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Jean Deysel, 20. Jacques Botes, 21. Meyer Bosman, 22. Marius Joubert