The Sharks succumbed to a second successive home defeat as the Reds came up trumps 21-14 in Durban on Friday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Just a fortnight ago, the Sharks were celebrating a stunning victory over the Lions in Johannesburg. Since then, they have been hammered by the Jaguares and humbled by the Reds, both at Kings Park.
So, where to from here for the coastal side? Well, a challenging overseas tour now awaits as they get set to face the Waratahs, Crusaders and Chiefs.
And based on what was yet another inept and inaccurate showing on Friday, it could all get rather ugly for the Sharks in Australasia, with their playoff hopes quickly fading away at an unfortunate rate of knots.
Last weekend, the Sharks conceded 51 points and as many as seven tries in a woeful defeat against the Jaguares. It was a result that always seemed likely to rattle the self-belief of the erratic Durban-based side.
To make matters worse, the Sharks made the worst possible start to Friday’s clash when a couple of basic errors allowed Bryce Hegarty to cruise over for a second-minute try, while Chris Feauai-Sautia doubled the visitors’ lead with another score just before the quarter-hour mark.
There was finally a riposte from the Sharks when Kerron van Vuuren powered over from the back of a powerful lineout drive soon after, but the hosts continued to be haunted by inaccuracy, turnovers and shocking handling.
As it was, two golden try-scoring opportunities were squandered before the break, which rather aptly summed up yet another utterly forgettable first half from the Sharks.
At the 55-minute mark, a worrying statistic popped up to show that the Sharks had made a whopping 14 handling errors, while the Reds continued to dominate and disrupt proceedings at ruck time.
The Australian outfit would also restore a 14-point lead when some impressive interplay ultimately saw Tate McDermott dot down under the posts on the hour mark.
Although Jean-Luc du Preez would score a late consolation try for the Sharks, it was too little, too late, and the Reds were able to celebrate their first Vodacom Super Rugby victory in Durban since 2004.
Sharks – Tries: Kerron van Vuuren, Jean-Luc du Preez. Conversions: Rob du Preez, Curwin Bosch.
Reds – Tries: Bryce Hegarty, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Tate McDermott. Conversions: Hegarty (2), Hamish Stewart.
Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Kobus van Wyk, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (c), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Aphelele Fassi.
Reds – 15 Hamish Stewart, 14 Sefa Naivalu , 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi (c), 11 Jack Hardy, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Harry Hoopert.
Subs: 16 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Harry Hockings, 20 Adam Korczyk, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Jock Campbell.
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