Sharks end SA tour agony

The Sharks beat the Rebels 22-16 on Friday to become the first South African side to win in Australasia this season. JON CARDINELLI reports.

It's taken 13 matches, but South Africa are finally on the board. After the winless tours for the Cheetahs, Stormers, and Bulls, the Sharks have managed a scrappy but important victory for South African rugby.

The performance, on the other hand, was nothing to shout about. The Rebels kept the Sharks tryless for 63 minutes; this after the Sharks had failed to register a five-pointer in their previous game against the Highlanders in Durban.

The Sharks battled for continuity in just about every department. The scrum didn't dominate as expected, tackles were slipped, and the accuracy at the breakdown was wanting yet again.

Where they were consistent was in front of the uprights. While Frans Steyn made a series of mistakes with ball in hand, he converted every one of his six attempts on goal.

The Sharks should have been awarded a try in the second minute. The ball was kicked into the Rebels' in-goal area, and both Lwazi Mvovo and Bryce Hegarty contested to dot the ball down. Hegarty then deliberately knocked the ball into touch, an offence that should have resulted in a penalty try, and possibly a yellow card. However, the officials determined that there was no guarantee that the try would have been scored.

The Sharks only started to build some momentum towards the end of the first half. Steyn kicked five penalties to give the visitors a substantial 15-6 lead going into the break.

A sweeping counter-attack in the 63rd minute culminated in a try for JP Pietersen, the first five-pointer for the Sharks in nearly 160 minutes of rugby. This strike also allowed the Sharks to stretch their lead to 11 points and take control of the game.

The Rebels scored after a sustained assault on the Sharks tryline, and a touchline conversion by Jason Woodward brought the hosts to within striking distance. But the Sharks kept the Rebels pinned in their own territory for the majority of the final 10 minutes, and ultimately managed to secure the result.

Rebels – Try: Pat Leafa. Conversion: Jason Woodward. Penalties: Woodward (3).
Sharks – Try: JP Pietersen. Conversion: Frans Steyn. Penalties: Steyn (5).

Rebels – 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Male Sau, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Cruze Ah-Nau.
Subs: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Max Lahiff,18 Paul Alo-Emilie, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Tom Kingston, 23 Angus Roberts.

Sharks – 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Frans Steyn, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 SP Marais.

The Sharks defence was not at its best, but one man certainly made an impression. Jean Deysel completed 10 tackles in the first half alone. 

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Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

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