The Sharks continued their unbeaten run in Super Rugby with a 34-32 win over the Rebels in a ding-dong battle on Friday
The Sharks continued their unbeaten run in Super Rugby with a 34-32 win over the Rebels in a ding-dong battle on Friday.
The Rebels led 18-13 at half time but two tries in the final ten minutes saw the visitors grab victory and a bonus point to boot.
The result means the Sharks will finish the weekend at the top of both the South African conference and the overall tournament tables while the Rebels will have to settle for two bonus points.
Once again the Rebels surprised as they went toe-to-toe with the tournament pacesetters, scoring four well deserved tries in front of a Melbourne crowd that got behind their team in manner rarely heard in the southern hemisphere.
The opposing fly-halves starred for their respective teams as Danny Cipriani scored a fantastic try while Pat Lambie was faultless form the kicking tee.
Despite a promising start from the hosts, the Sharks were able to open up a ten-point lead by the quarter-hour mark thanks to a try from hooker Bismarck du Plessis, who muscled his way over from short range, and some neat kicking from Lambie.
The Rebels were on the board sooner afterwards as Cipriani and Lambie traded penalties.
The Sharks conceded their first try on the season just after half-an-hour when Mark Gerrard made a strong run, setting up Cooper Vuna for his first Super Rugby touch down.
Another Cipriani penalty has drew the sides level before the Rebels struck again, this time former Brumbies centres Stirling Mortlock and Julian Huxley linking up to put the latter in after the skipper broke through near the half-way line.
A five-point half time lead was extended almost immediately after the break when Cipriani scored a scorching solo try, slicing through the Sharks defence before using his pace to race 50 metres to finish under the sticks.
The Sharks were quick to reply however, Willem Alberts bursting clear to create the space for Lwazi Mvovo to latch onto Stefan Terblanche's pass and score.
Lambie's conversion left the scores at 25-20 to set up a high-paced second half.
The nine minutes left on the clock, the Sharks moved back in front when Ryan Kankowski stretched out an arm to score to cap a period of sustained pressure from the Durbanites.
A defensive mix-up from the Rebels two minutes later allowed Meyer Bosman to dive onto a lose ball and seal the bonus point and the win for the Sharks.
The Rebels made a gutsy decision in the dying minutes, going for an attacking line-out rather than taking three points and were rewarded when Jarrod Saffey crashed over in a pile of bodies to grab the hosts' second bonus point.
For the Rebels:
Tries: Vuna, Huxley, Cipriani, Saffy
Cons: Cipriani 3
Pens: Cipriani 2
For the Sharks:
Tries: B. du Plessis, Mvovo, Kankowski, Bosman
Cons: Lambie 4
Pens: Lambie 2
Yellow card: Vuna (Rebels – 55th min)
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Mark Gerrard, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Julian Huxley, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jarrod Saffey, 5 Kevin O'Neill, 4 Al Campbell, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Hugh Pyle, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 22 Luke Rooney.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 John Smit (capt), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Adrian Jacobs.
Date: Friday, March 11
Kick-off: 19:40 (08:40 GMT)
Venue: AAMI Stadium
Referee: Chris Pollock
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Andrew Lees (Australia)
Television match official: Matt Goddard