Sharks overpower Brumbies
Cape Town - The Sharks scored 28 unanswered second half points to defeat the Brumbies of Australia 34-16 on Saturday and stay on course for a Vodacom Super Rugby play-offs place.
Victory lifted the Durban franchise to fifth on the combined table with 39 points and this bonus-point victory leaves them just four points behind the Stormers in the South African conference.
It was hard to imagine Sharks winning so comfortably when they trailed 13-0 midway through the opening half at Kings Park in Durban as the Brumbies put a loss to the Cheetahs last weekend behind them.
But the Australians faded dramatically as the second half wore on and they conceded four tries, all of which young Sharks flyhalf Patrick Lambie converted to finish with a 14-point haul.
"It is a long, hard, tough competition and getting five points was an excellent result for us after a heavy loss to the Stormers last weekend," stressed Sharks centre and skipper Stefan Terblanche
"We were hurting after Cape Town where we were beaten and beaten up and it was important that we got back on the winning trail quickly. The Super Rugby is a marathon not a sprint and we are nicely placed."
Brumbies flyhalf and captain Matt Giteau cut a despondent figure as the Wallaby star reflected on a two-match South African tour that did not yield a single point for a team lying in the bottom half of the table.
"I thought we were pretty good in the first half, but dropped off after the break while the Sharks lifted their game. Our intensity slipped and the lesson from this game is that we have to maintain momentum for 80 minutes."
Giteau kicked two penalties before converting a try by centre Christian Lealiifano which stemmed from wing Adam Smith gathering a kick ahead by scrum-half Patrick Phibbs deep in Brumbies territory.
Lambie cut the gap to seven points with a couple of penalties before Giteau landed one to leave the Brumbies 10 points ahead at half-time after a poor first half showing from the home team.
Sensing an unaffordable home loss, Sharks backs and forwards upped the tempo and Springbok wing JP Pietersen dotted down three minutes into the second half to ignite a stirring revival.
Lock Steven Sykes went over in the corner for the second try, another Lambie conversion made it 20-16, and from then on only one team looked like winning with replacements Adi Jacobs and Anton Bresler adding a try each.
15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche
(captain), 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Charl
McLeod, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair
Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1
Substitutes: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Eugene van
Staden, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Marcel Coetzee, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Adi
Jacobs, 22 Lwazi Mvovo
15 Pat McCabe, 14
Andrew Smith, 13 Tyrone Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Adam
Ashley-Cooper, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Pat Phibbs, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Colby
Faingaa, 6 Mitch Chapman, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Peter Kimlin, 3 Jono Owen, 2
Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander
Substitutes: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17
Salesi Ma’afu, 18 Ben Hand, 19 Michael Hooper, 20 Josh Valentine, 21
Robbie Coleman, 22 Franky Fainifo