The Waratahs made a winning return home on Saturday with a 25-21 win over the Sharks in hard-fought but uninspired clash.
The Waratahs made a winning return home on Saturday with a 25-21 victory over the struggling Sharks in hard-fought but uninspired encounter.
The Sharks might well feel aggrieved after Kurtley Beale intentionally knocked down what looked to be a try-scoring pass in the dying minutes. Referee Paul Marks dished out a yellow card, but failed to award the penalty try that seemed the logic conclusion.
While the Waratahs scored three tries, they didn't excite the crowd much as they chose to kick rather than keep ball in hand more often than not.
The Sharks' performance was a marked step up on what we've seen on their tour so far, but unfortunately, judging by the number of elementary errors made over the 80 minutes, it's fairly safe to say neither of these sides will be winning the competition this year unless some major improvements are made.
It took less than 30 seconds for the Sharks to give away the first penalty – which Berrick Barnes duly sent through the uprights to give the Waratahs a perfect start.
Andy Goode provided the perfect reply however, smashing a drop goal from nearly 50m to leave the scores level at 3-all after just three minutes.
Barnes and Goode exchanged penalties before a crazy ten minutes which started with the Sharks being dealt two yellow cards in the space of three minutes.
Jannie du Plessis was sent to the bin for a stupid trip on Daniel Halangahu on twenty minutes only to see Goode join him for coming into the side of a ruck despite the referee's warnings. It was a Goode's second yellow card in less than 30 minutes in a Sharks jersey.
The visitors might have been down to thirteen men, but they would score the first try when Ryan Kankowski intercepted and ran 60m to score.
It was just the Sharks second try since the start of the season – both to Kankowski – and it put a skip in their step. It was all going wrong for the Waratahs as the thirteen-man Sharks plied the pressure and added another penalty from Ruan Pienaar.
Bizarrely, as soon as Du Plessis returned, the Waratahs scored! Halangahu snuck under the posts and Barnes' conversion closed the gap to a single point.
Crucially, the home side would score just before the break when Tom Carter muscled his way over from short range to give the Waratahs a 18-14 lead at half time.
The 'Tahs extended the lead when Tatafu Polota-Nau came flying at the Sharks' defensive line like a scud missile. Stefan Terblanche was never going to stop the 113kg hooker, who touched down under the posts.
The Waratahs were woeful at the restarts, and it would cost them as they allowed the Sharks to strike right back when Adrian Jacobs sold the home midfield a dummy to ghost over. Goode's conversion left the scores at 25-21 with twenty minutes to play.
The Sharks made all the running in the final stages, but a couple of marginal calls in the dying minutes meant that a losing bonus point is all they will have to settle for.
Man of the match: The Waratahs backs didn't seem to interested in doing much running, but hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau did everything expected of him, bashing people out the way all day and scoring a great try.
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Halangahu, Carter, Polota-Nau
Cons: Barnes 2
Pens: Barnes 2
For the Sharks:
Tries: Kankowski, Jacobs
Pens: Goode, Pienaar
Yellow cards: J. du Plessis (Sharks -20th min – trip); Goode (Sharks -23rd min – repeated offside); Beale (Waratahs – 78th min – intentional knock-down)
Waratahs: 15 Sosene Anesi, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Tom Carter, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess; 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Will Caldwell, 19 Ben Mowen, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Kurtley Beale, 22 Rob Horne.
Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Adrian Jacobs, 12 Riaan Swanepoel, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Andrew Goode, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Waylon Murray.
Referee: Paul Marks (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nathan Pearce (Australia), Steve Hardy (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)