The Hurricanes claimed a landmark third win in a row over the Sharks with a 30-17 victory in Durban on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The greater context of the result has possibly dashed the Sharks hopes of making the playoffs. While they started the weekend in a wildcard spot, one of the Lions or Stormers will pick up points later this evening which will allow one of the teams to leapfrog the Durbanites.
With trips to Buenos Aires and Newlands to come, the Sharks will have to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat to stand a chance of making through to the next stage.
Performance-wise, it was the Hurricanes’ All Blacks that more-or-less got the better of the Sharks’ Springboks, with the Barrett brothers, Jordie and Beauden, causing plenty of problems.
Beauden Barrett set up two of the Hurricanes’ tries, one of them scored by Jordie, while also showing calm off the kicking tee, slotting all his conversions to go with three penalties.
Ngani Laumape came into his own towards the end of the first half, first making an excellent linebreak to bring the Hurricanes into Sharks territory, before once again showing his strength to brush off a few tackles and reach over for the visitors’ second of the day.
The back three of Makazole Mapimpi, Aphelele Fassi and S’bu Nkosi continued their good run of form into this match, threatening whenever they saw the ball. Unfortunately, it came their way quite rarely, especially in the first half when the Sharks struggled to build the phases in the face of a physical Hurricanes defence.
The Sharks did finally get reward for their possession when, after an umpteenth strong carry and combination from the Du Preez brothers gave them momentum, Lukhanyo Am was able to exploit the space and put Fassi away out wide.
There was more joy for the home side in the second half as they finally managed to free up Mapimpi, who in turn put Louis Schreuder away but the scrumhalf was halted just short before Juan Schoeman powered over the line.
Unfortunately, that was when things started to go wrong for the Sharks. Ardie Savea became a menace at the breakdown, while Ben Lam and Laumape continued to threaten. The hosts were not helped by turning down a couple of penalties at a key stage in the game, opting for the maul, which was well contained by the visitors.
Sharks coach Robert du Preez once again made a strange call to replace Fassi with Robert du Preez Jr, shifting Curwin Bosch to fullback. It cannot be a coincidence, as in last week’s game against the Lions it marked the point when the home side started to lose control of the game.
From there, Barrett kicked his third penalty before setting up Wes Goosen for a try in the corner which ultimately took the game away from the Sharks.
A late red card to Vaea Fifita for a dangerous tackle gave the Sharks an opportunity to at least snaffle a losing bonus-point, but the hosts once again could not get their maul to work.
Sharks – Tries: Aphelele Fassi, Juan Schoeman. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalty: Bosch.
Hurricanes – Tries: Jordie Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Wes Goosen. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (3). Penalty: Beauden Barrett (3).
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder (c), 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Mzamo Majola.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden/Cullen Collopy, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tyler Paul, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Robert du Preez, 23 Kobus van Wyk.
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Kane Le’aupepe, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21 Gareth Evans, 22 Richard Judd, 23 James Marshall.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images