Sharks hold on for win
Canberra - The Sharks survived a late challenge to break a 14-year drought in Canberra by grinding down the Brumbies 29-26 in their Super Rugby match on Saturday.
The Brumbies' replacement Nic White snatched an 80th minute try and Christan Lealiifano's conversion put the home side within three points but the Sharks repelled a desperate drive after the whistle to notch their first win at Canberra Stadium since 1998.
"It was a great encounter, both teams played some real running rugby ... I'm very proud of the boys," Sharks captain Keegan Daniel said in a pitchside interview.
"We haven't had too much success here or in Sydney, so we're very happy to pull off a win here."
Fullback Riaan Viljoen scored a brace of tries in the first half and flanker Willem Alberts added another after the break before winger Lwazi Mvovo scored a fourth in the 62nd minute to give the Durban-based Sharks a bonus point.
The win was the Sharks' third from six matches in the season and was made easier by a pair of howling errors from the Brumbies.
The hosts were kicking themselves six minutes before half-time when winger Odwa Ndugane intercepted an ambitious pass and fed Viljoen for the Sharks' second try.
Another shambolic error in defence gifted the Sharks their third and a six-point lead four minutes after the break.
Flyhalf Matt Toomua knocked the ball out of the air back towards the Brumbies' try-line where winger Henry Speight fumbled, allowing Sharks flanker Alberts to poke the ball over with his foot and fall on top of it at the left post.
The match began as an arm wrestle, but Viljoen drew first blood for the Sharks with his first try in the 21st minute after receiving a long pass from a quickly taken penalty.
Fullback Jesse Mogg struck back for the Brumbies seven minutes later with an inspirational try, streaming down the right wing and collecting his own kick a few metres shy of the line before touching down under the posts.
The Brumbies held a one-point lead (16-15) at half-time but were repeatedly denied after the break by desperate defence on the line.
The Sharks counter-attacked brilliantly after weathering a 15-phase assault that covered the breadth of their line, with lock Steven Sykes thundering down the left before dishing inside to jet-heeled winger Mvovo at the halfway mark.
Mvovo burned away from the chasing Pat McCabe to score his try. Frederic Michalak converted to put the Sharks 29-19 up with less than a quarter left.
White's unlikely last-gasp try, stepping a defender before crossing near the left corner, raised the hopes of baying fans at the stadium but prop Ben Alexander's desperate charge toward the line saw the ball spill free and allow Sharks scrumhalf Charl McLeod to boot it into touch to secure victory.
Tries: Jesse Mogg, Nic Smith
Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (2)
Penalties: Lealiifano (4)
Tries: Riaan Viljoen (2), Willem Alberts, Lwazi Mvovo
Conversions: Frederic Michalak (3)
15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Leon Power, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ruadhri Murphy
Substitutes: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Scott Fardy, 19 Ita Vaea, 20 Nic White, 21 Zack Holmes, 22 Joe Tomane
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 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 Bismarck du Plessis, 2 Dale Chadwick
Substitutes: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Louis Ludik