Planet Rugby

Sharks finally off the mark

20th March 2010 06:11

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Hardie brought down

Brought down: The Sharks' defence was too strong for John Hardie

The Sharks grabbed their first win of the Super 14 on Saturday, notching a 30-16 win over the Highlanders at Carisbrook.

It just about keeps the Durbanites' season alive, while the hosts' hopes of a play-off spot are now all but extinguished as Jayden Hayward's wayward pass late on cost the Highlanders both a try and a bonus point.

The Sharks had the better of the opening skirmishes, first doing well to repel a Highlanders attack and then working their way steadily downfield, from where Ruan Pienaar landed the first points of the match from the tee.

But a couple of silly errors - including Andy Goode being caught in possession in his own 22 and nearly giving a try away - ensured that the Highlanders, helped not a little by an excellent display from Adam Thomson, got back into the game quickly.

Thomson's fabulous round-the-back pass set James Paterson on his way to the line but the wing was hauled down just short. That precipitated a good four minutes of pressure on the Sharks line, but by the end of it all the Highlanders had to show was a penalty by Israel Dagg.

Dagg's electric burst on 18 minutes gave the Highlanders further territory advantage, with excellent ball retention keeping the Sharks under siege. Again, they failed to get to the whitewash and again, more as a result of the Sharks' infringements than anything else. Eventually it was left to Dagg to nail his second kick to give the home side the lead.

That was short-lived. From the restart, Jean Deysel made a telling break and almost got to the line, with Bismarck du Plessis finishing the job for him and Pienaar converting.

Dagg missed a long-range attempt at goal as the Highlanders' frustrations began to mount. Of the first half-hour they had spent seven minutes in the Sharks' 22 to the Sharks' 52 seconds, yet trailed 10-6.

Dagg missed his second long shot, but breaks by Ben Smith and Kenny Lynn near half-time suggested better might be to come despite that scoreline remaining until half-time.

The second half opened with a flurry of handling errors, while Dagg and Pienaar exchanged kicks to make it 13-9, then a terrific Sharks driving maul from a line-out took them once again to within goalable range and Pienaar extended the lead.

That maul was the clearest sign yet that the Sharks pack was getting the upper hand and the pressure told after 62 minutes when Stefan Terblanche crossed in the left-hand corner. Pienaar's excellent touchline conversion looked to have taken the game beyond the Highlander's reach.

Instead, it sparked the home side into action and Ben Smith's surge to the line - and Israel Dagg with the conversion - brought them back to within a score.

Dagg, Smith and Michael Hobbs all looked threatening in the final five minutes but some silly errors, such as Jason Rutledge's holding onto the ball when all he needed to do was flip it out, undermined the threat.

A brilliant run by Fetu'u Vainikolo to the left-hand corner after a well-executed backs move was ruled out by a whisker by the TMO as the home side searched in vain for the game-tying score.

But it became too ragged and Jayden Hayward's loose pass was picked off by Adi Jacobs for the winning try. The Sharks' season is still alive but the Highlanders' is over too early once more.

Man of the match: Take a bow Patrick Lambie, hugely impressive for a teenager on his run-on debut.

The scorers:

For the Highlanders:
Try: Smith
Con: Dagg
Pens: Dagg 3

For the Sharks:
Tries: B.du Plessis, Terblanche, Jacobs
Cons: Pienaar 3
Pens: Pienaar 3

Highlanders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Kenny Lynn, 12 Michael Hobbs, 11 James Paterson, 10 Robbie Robinson, 9 Jimmy Cowan (c), 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 John Hardie, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Clint Newland, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16. Jason Macdonald, 17 Chris King, 18 Joe Tuineau, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Sean Romans, 21 Jayden Hayward, 22 Fetu'u Vainikolo.

Sharks: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Stefan Terblanche, 13 Adrian Jacobs, 12 Riaan Swanepoel, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Johann Muller (c), 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 John Smit, 18 Alistair Hargreaves, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Waylon Murray.

Date: Saturday, March 20
Venue: Carisbrook
Kick-off: 19.35 (06.35 GMT)
Referee: Jonathon White (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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