The Sharks claimed a 33-23 victory over the Reds in Brisbane to finish their Australasian tour with a fantastic three-from-four win record, writes JON CARDINELLI.
The final scoreline may suggest otherwise, but the Sharks were made to fight tooth and nail for the result in Brisbane. That they were able to lift their levels of physicality in the closing stages of a four-week tour said a lot for the team’s culture and fitness levels.
Sean Everitt’s charges have scored wins against the Highlanders, Rebels and Reds over the past month in Australasia. One would expect the Sharks to capitalise on a fine start to the campaign and push for a home playoff from here.
The Sharks’ consistency at the breakdown and at the set pieces left a lot to be desired in the first half. The Reds were even more erratic in these areas, though.
Had the hosts been more accurate, and had they not botched so many chances in the Sharks 22, they would have gone to the break with a more significant lead than 11-8.
The Sharks didn’t panic. Their forwards fired early in the second stanza to set the platform for a fine try.
Lukhanyo Am took a great option down the left-hand side to make inroads into the Reds defence. From there, Sikhumbuzo Notshe – who continues to fire with ball in hand – took the visitors forward. Dylan Richardson was awake to an opportunity from a subsequent phase, and darted over the tryline.
What separated the two teams in the latter stages was a renewed effort by the Sharks forwards and the goal-kicking of Curwin Bosch. The Sharks flyhalf booted two long-range penalties to take the visitors out to a five-point lead with less than 20 minutes left.
The Sharks defence was tested as the game raced toward a climax. Taniela Tupou thought that he’d scored for the hosts, but a review showed that the big prop had been held up short before he stretched for the line.
Just as it appeared as if the Reds were making headway, Am intercepted a flat pass and raced away to score. Madosh Tambwe crossed the line at the death to put the final nail in the Reds’ coffin.
Reds – Tries: Henry Speight, Tate McDermott, Ed Craig. Conversion: Jock Campbell. Penalties: Campbell (2).
Sharks – Tries: Kerron van Vuuren, Dylan Richardson, Lukhanyo Am, Madosh Tambwe. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (3).
Reds – 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Henry Speight, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (c), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Harry Hockings, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 JP Smith. Subs: 16 Ed Craig, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Scott Malolua, 22 Isaac Lucas, 23 Filipo Daugunu.
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets