Sharks extend lead at the top

May 23, 2014
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The Sharks extended their winning streak over the Blues to ten consecutive matches when they beat the Aucklanders 23-29 at North Harbour Stadium in Albany.

The result provisionally moves the Sharks nine points clear at the top of the Super Rugby standing and makes the Sharks the first South African Super Rugby team to go unbeaten in New Zealand.

The result almost certainly ends the Blues play off hopes as they are last in the New Zealand Conference and are 16 points behind the tournament leading Sharks.

Flyhalf Francois Steyn kicked 16 points, contributed to a controversial second-half try, and spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin while ensuring the Sharks won for the third time in four matches on their tour to Australia and New Zealand, and maintained their season-long reign atop the tournament ladder.

The Sharks return to South Africa for four matches in which they can cement first place while the Blues, anchored in 10th place before this match, are left to contemplate a season which again has fallen short of the promise of their star-studded roster.

Captain Bismarck du Plessis scored a first-half try for the Sharks, who led throughout the match, though they were twice reduced to 14 men by yellow cards and played a total of 20 minutes with a man down.

In that respect, the match was similar to their 30-25 win over the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend when they played for 64 minutes with 14 men and for 10 minutes with 13 but still posted their first win in Christchurch.

The Sharks, under World Cup-winning Springboks coach Jake White, appear to have developed a pattern and gameplan so economical, settled, and precise that it can be sustained even when they are short-handed.

Some observers of Super Rugby are concerned a tournament win by the Sharks would be a victory for a cynical brand of rugby – unsightly for spectators.

The two yellow cards incurred by the Durban-based side on Friday further emphasized the cynical nature of their game – they slow play and consistently impede opposition ball – but there was still massive admiration for the manner in which they managed to win while reduced to 14 men for a quarter of the match.

The Sharks extended to 10 matches their winning streak over the Blues but, most importantly, return to South Africa with a 3-1 record on tour which ensured they retained first place through the hardest part of their season.

“To be honest we wanted to win four out of four, I’d be lying if I didn’t say we wanted to win four out of four,”said Du Plessis.

“But three out of four on a hard trip, we’re very happy with that.

“What we wanted to do was really put them under pressure at scrum time and lineouts, and we got that in the first half. Second half we were a wee bit under the pump.”

Du Plessis scored his 15th Super Rugby try in the 15th minute of the first half, and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach touched down in the 15th minute of the second, reproducing the length-of-the-field, kick-and-chase try that he scored early in the second half of the match against Crusaders.

His try on Friday was equally influential in tipping the match in the Sharks’ favor. But it came from obvious offside play and a knock-on by Steyn, which went unobserved by the referee, his assistants or the television match official.

The second of Auckland’s tries, to winger Tevita Li, also came from a blatant forward pass which was similarly undetected by the officials, and enlarged concern about the drop in refereeing standards this season.

The Sharks lost prop Jannie du Plessis to a yellow card in the 42nd, and the Blues immediately capitalized with a try to their captain, Luke Braid.

Steyn was yellow-carded in the 61st and the Blues again scored, through Li, but the home side never achieved a lead, and face another finish among the tournament’s also-rans.

Final Score Blues 23 (6) Sharks 29 (16)

Scorers

Blues
Tries – L.Braid, T. Li
Pen – S.Hickey 2, I West
Con – S.Hickey, I.West
Drop -
Cards -

Sharks
Tries – B.du Plessis, C.Reinach
Pen – F.Steyn 3, SP Marais
Con – F.Steyn 2
Drop – F.Steyn
Cards – J.du Plessis (42nd minute), F.Steyn (61st minute yellow)

Source: superxv.com

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12 Comments

  1. avatar Duiwel says:
    May 23rd, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    If that cynical style
    results in winning
    I’m all for it.

  2. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    May 23rd, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Highlights

  3. avatar Duiwel says:
    May 23rd, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Thanks Bunny,
    Nice one

  4. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    May 24th, 2014 at 1:30 am

    stormers dejavu. The other team makes the play but the pragmatists win the game.

    Hell that Reinach try was atrocious refereeing.

    But we have been here before. Teams like the Sharks simply never win the big stuff.

    Liked Steyns droppie, but he is fat arse again. Why did they allow his conditioning to slip again?

  5. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    May 24th, 2014 at 2:13 am

    Another great win… but they need to cut-out the constant cards come play-off time…

    @Cheetah Glory: @Cheetah Glory:

    Every game in NZ is a big one and they’re undefeated this year… as for Frans… he’s a big boy plain and simple… still as quick as he’s ever been despite injuries…

  6. avatar Timeo says:
    May 24th, 2014 at 2:40 am

    @Cheetah Glory:

    The Sharks may be slightly pragmatic, but you are extremely dogmatic. ;)

    Here’s to more open mindedness on matters rugby-FOOTBALL.

  7. avatar Timeo says:
    May 24th, 2014 at 2:40 am

    Correction.

    I saw nothing pragmatic in the way the Sharks played the game.

  8. avatar Timeo says:
    May 24th, 2014 at 2:42 am

    The forgotten history about William Webb-Ellis is, that he picked the ball up to form a maul.

  9. avatar Mug Punters Organisation of South Africa says:
    May 24th, 2014 at 5:00 am

    The two yellow cards incurred by the Durban-based side on Friday further emphasized the cynical nature of their game – they slow play and consistently impede opposition ball

    Who wrote that shit thats every teams tactics hell the Blues were doing it too.
    Nonu passed the ball forward no try and the first was very suspect and seen these not been awarded. Who is the player with the ball?

    Terrible reffing again the TMO needs to be shot and the ref had the home town goggles on. Very poor indeed almost crap as the kiwi commentator I had to listen too.

    Fat Steyn was the tackler and has every right to play the ball. The Sharks had their hands on the ball its light so if he is 100kg and struggling to get 400grams off the ground then the player is holding on.

    The Sharks are preparing the Boks to win on Keewee soil.

  10. avatar Aldo says:
    May 25th, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Brendon, did you secretely write this article? Bliksem worry among fans at their style of play? Im not a Sharks fan, rephrase, the only thing I hate more than the sharks in rugby, is Jake White, but give credit where it is due. 3 from 4 on a tour including game against the saders, brumbies and blues is a bloddy good job. Long live their style of rugby, any gameplan that allows you to win, is a good gameplan, as long as you stay in the rules of the game.

    Bliksem, the AB’s have been getting away with being cynical for years, yet certain people in the peanut gallery get an orgasm every time they mention them.

  11. avatar DavidS says:
    May 25th, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    @Mug Punters Organisation of South Africa:

    You should have watched the Hurricanes Crusaders game for atrocious refreeeing…

  12. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    May 26th, 2014 at 8:01 am

    @Mug Punters Organisation of South Africa:

    Frans Steyn clearly knocked that ball through his legs with his back to the opposition… hence it was a knock-on and no try.

    Blues also scored through a forward pass from Nonu… should not have been a try…

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