Cape Town - It was perhaps closer than the scoreline suggests, but all that matters is that the Sharks slumped to a 33-18 loss to the Waratahs in a Super Rugby clash in Sydney on Saturday.
As it happened: Waratahs hand Sharks another loss
The Sharks got off to the worst possible start when leaky defence allowed flank Michael Hooper through.
His offload was well gathered by Adam Ashley-Cooper, who dotted down under the posts to put the Waratahs 5-0 up inside the first 60 seconds. Michael Foley had no problem adding the extra two, and the visitors faced an uphill battle.
The Sharks settled well after that, and were on the board in the 18th minute when Frans Steyn slotted a penalty from about 35 metres out.
Foley restored the ‘Tahs seven point lead just two minutes later when the Sharks were penalised on their own try line.
The calls were not going the visitors’ way, and a scrum penalty on 27 minutes allowed Foley to stretch the Waratahs lead to 13-3.
A brief spell of dominant possession and territory then followed for the Durbanites, and it resulted in Steyn knocking over his second penalty of the night with five minutes left in the half.
As the break approached things got a little heated on the Sharks line when the ‘Tahs were penalised, but the cards stayed in referee Rohan Hoffmann’s pocket and the score remained 13-6 at half time.
The Sharks came out with a renewed intensity in the second half, and after some resilient defence they were finally rewarded for their efforts on 49 minutes through a moment of magic and a bit of luck.
The Sharks had been awarded a penalty just inside their own half. Flyhalf Lionel Cronje was lining up a routine touch finder, but instinctively opted to seek out Odwa Ndungane down the right hand side. The bounce worked in the Sharks’ favour, and Ndungane gathered to score in the corner.
Steyn missed the conversion and the ‘Tahs were 13-11 ahead.
But winger Taqele Naiyaravoro had too much strength for Lwazi Mvovo just four minutes later as he dived into the corner and, after some TMO intervention, scored for the Waratahs. Foley’s kick from right hand touchline was good and the score was 20-11.
The Sharks bounced back once more, this time the Waratahs slipping up defensively. Steyn capitalised on Kurtley Beale’s error to score under the posts, convert his own try and close the gap to 20-18.
The game had opened up nicely before another Foley penalty made it 23-18, and the stage was set for an exciting finish.
But the flyhalf’s fourth penalty of the night knocked the wind out of the Sharks’ sails as they fell behind 26-18 with 10 minutes to play.
Sibusiso Sithole thought he had gotten his side back into it with a try in the corner, but the TMO ruled that he had been bundled into touch before grounding the ball.
The Waratahs added the final nail to the Sharks' coffin when Bernard Foley ghosted through the defence to score and convert his own try.
Tries – Adam Ashley-Cooper, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Bernard Foley
Conversions – Bernard Foley 3
Penalties – Foley 4
Tries – Odwa Ndungane, Frans Steyn
Conversions – Steyn
Penalties – Frans Steyn 2