The embattled Sharks suffered a fifth successive defeat of the Vodacom URC season on Saturday evening after going down to Connacht in Durban.
Trailing 10-5 at half time, the Sharks took the lead for the first time with 30 minutes left to play but Man of the Match JJ Hanrahan kicked eight points to help the visitors clinch a 13-12 win at Kings Park.
It was the first match back home for the Durbanites after a disappointing European tour, as John Plumtree’s men extended their winless run against the Irish provinces to nine and remain rooted to the foot of the URC table.
The hosts got themselves into good positions on attack in the first 40 minutes, but lacked the composure to finish off their chances despite the return of double World Cup-winning Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am, while missed penalties each from Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch and replacement Boeta Chamberlain in either half cost them dearly.
🦅 @connachtrugby have 𝐀𝐑𝐑𝐈𝐕𝐄𝐃 in South Africa ⛔️
— BKT United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) November 18, 2023
Connacht struck first with a seventh-minute try from powerful No 8 Sean O’Brien. Flyhalf Hanrahan added the extras and the visitors weathered plenty of pressure from the Sharks until loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe barged over inside the final 10 minutes of the first half.
A Hanrahan penalty just before the break undid some of the Sharks’ good work, but their resilience paid off after the restart when bustling right winger Werner Kok dotted down under the posts against a 14-man Connacht following lock Oisín Dowling’s yellow card.
Bosch added the extras, but Hanrahan split the uprights from the kicking tee to regain the scoreboard advantage for the Irish inside the final quarter, and then dug in for victory.
The Sharks must now regroup for a visit from Welsh outfit Dragons next Saturday.
Photo: Steve Haag Sports/INPHO/Shutterstock