Craig Lewis

Brumbies punish scrappy Sharks

Lausii Taliauli on the way to scoring Lausii Taliauli on the way to scoring

Wharenui Hawera contributed 14 points via the boot as the Brumbies claimed a 24-17 win over the ill-disciplined Sharks in Canberra on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

Before the start of this season, there was a common sentiment in rugby circles that the Sharks could be dark horses for the Super Rugby title, but the Durban-based side has failed to justify such expectations up to this point.

Despite last weekend's bonus-point victory over the Sunwolves, the Sharks have gone winless in games against the Lions, Waratahs and now the Brumbies, with their set piece and discipline particularly letting them down on Saturday.

Overall, the Sharks conceded 14 penalties – a number of which came at scrum time – while they were unable to string any meaningful phase play together to trouble the Brumbies, who claimed a second win in what has otherwise been an unconvincing start to the season for the former two-time champs.

In the opening quarter, the scrappy Sharks were made to pay for their ill-discipline, which saw them concede six penalties and spend the majority of that time camped in their own half as the Brumbies enjoyed as much as 75% of possession.

The visitors also quickly fell 10 points behind as Hawera slotted an early penalty, before Lausii Taliauli finished off a well-worked try after an extended period of pressure.

The Sharks eventually opened their account through a 31st-minute penalty to Rob du Preez, but despite the Brumbies losing Lachlan McCaffrey to the sin bin five minutes before half-time, the Sharks’ malfunctioning lineout disrupted the momentum they were building.

To make matters worse, soon after the Brumbies were restored to 15 men, they delivered another significant blow as Henry Speight held off Curwin Bosch and dotted down for a try that extended the hosts’ advantage to a handy 12 points heading into the final half an hour.

That score swung momentum firmly in favour of the Brumbies, but they opened the door to let the Sharks back in when Allan Alaalatoa was yellow-carded for a maul infringement as the visitors turned to their trusty lineout drive to finally win some reward. Thomas du Toit then barged over to score for the Sharks and reignite hopes of a comeback.

However, Hawera quickly settled the Brumbies' nerves as he struck three more penalties to open up a 24-10 lead with less than 10 minutes to play. The Sharks would score a late consolation try to Bosch, but it was too little, too late.

Brumbies – Tries: Lausii Taliauli, Henry Speight. Conversion: Wharenui Hawera. Penalties: Hawera (4).
Sharks – Tries: Thomas du Toit, Curwin Bosch. Conversions: Rob du Preez (2). Penalty: Du Preez.

Brumbies – 15 Andrew Muirhead, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Lausii Taliauli, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Faingaa, 1 Scott Sio
Subs: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Tom Banks.

Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Wian Vosloo, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (c), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

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