Planet Rugby

Bonus-point win for Highlanders

25th April 2014 20:00

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Sharks lock Stephan Lewies on top of Highlanders scrum half Aaron Smith

On the rise: Highlanders

The Highlanders jumped up to fifth position in the overall standings after they shocked the pace-setting Sharks at Kings Park, winning 34-18 on Friday.

Four tries were scored by the visiting side with the best saved until last as Malakai Fekitoa went over from 50 metres for a fine finish from the centre.

The Sharks meanwhile, who rarely threatened the whitewash, failed to cross, with all of their points coming from the boot of fly-half Tim Swiel.

Despite their errors and lack of options in attack, all the credit must go to the Highlanders as they were clinical with ball in hand, scoring a variety of tries as their strong form continues after a bye.

The Sharks were, however, dealt a significant double blow before kick-off when hooker Bismarck du Plessis and flanker Jean Deysel were forced to withdraw from the contest due to injury, which meant Kyle Cooper and Etienne Oosthuizen came into the starting line-up as Willem Alberts shifted into the back-row.

Losing such physicality played a factor in the first-half as three tries were scored by the Highlanders, with Richard Buckman, Aaron Smith and Shane Christie all going over after the Sharks were put on the back foot. Christie's will have hurt most as it was a pushover.

The Highlanders had taken the initiative as early as the third minute when a scrum penalty went against prop Jannie du Plessis as up stepped visiting fly-half Liam Sopoaga with the long-range penalty. Opposition number ten Tim Swiel did level four minutes later however as referee Jaco Peyper came back for an earlier offence after denying the Sharks what looked a score, with the official deeming that Paul Jordaan had taken out a ruck defender.

Swiel then missed a penalty before landing his second of the game on thirteen minutes after Nasi Manu had entered a ruck from the side as it looked like the Sharks were going through their process of building a score early on. Little did they know what was to come.

The Highlanders' first try arrived on seventeen minutes from a strong run from Patrick Osborne, which led to Shaun Treeby kicking through perfectly for Buckman. Sopoaga's extras from the right of the field made it 10-6 to the side that knew victory would be huge.

Swiel did reply from the tee soon after before Osborne was forced off the field with an ankle injury, replaced by Trent Renata who stood up strongly either side of busy scrum-half Smith diving over from close-range after Joe Wheeler took the Highlanders to within five metres.

The visitors were now in full flow and when flanker Christie powered over off the back of a driving maul for a 24-9 lead, the Sharks were struggling to keep pace with their visitors.

Fortunately for the hosts, Swiel closed the gap to twelve on the hooter after a scrum penalty.

Swiel was on target again four minutes after the restart when he landed three more points off the tee and when Wheeler was carded for taking out a man at a line-out on 49 minutes, one sensed a shift in the momentum was coming as the crowd increased in volume.

From that offence, Swiel made it 24-18 and that was how the score remained before second-row Wheeler returned to what had become a niggly contest at Kings Park.

But it would end with the Highlanders on the front-foot as that lead in fact increased when Fekitoa's superb try from the halfway line had the Sharks clutching at air and holding defeat.

The scorers:

For Sharks:
Pen: Swiel 6

For Highlanders:
Tries: Buckman, A Smith, Christie, Fekitoa
Con: Sopoaga 4
Pen: Sopoaga 2

Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 S'bura Sithole, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Lubabalo Mtembu, 20 Ryan Kankowski, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 SP Marais.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Ma'afu Fia, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 John Hardie.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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