The Sharks got their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign back on track with a 28-14 win against the Rebels at Kings Park on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
After two impressive wins to start their season, the Sharks suffered two disappointing defeats. However, Saturday’s victory against a good Rebels side takes them up to second in the South African conference, behind the Lions and ahead of the Stormers and Vodacom Bulls, who they host next weekend.
Having won their first three matches of 2019, the Rebels have now lost two in a row and drop to second in the Australian conference behind the Waratahs.
The Sharks were full value for their win. While they had less of the possession and territory, they took their try-scoring chances and flyhalf Rob du Preez’s boot kept the scoreboard ticking over.
The Sharks signalled their attacking intent early on when they put two kickable penalties into touch. Neither lineout driving maul resulted in a try, though, as the Rebels defended well.
However, the Sharks did cross the line in the seventh minute when they attacked from a 5m scrum. André Esterhuizen was brought down just short of the line, but there was no stopping Dan du Preez from close range. Rob kicked the conversion and added a penalty to make it 10-0.
The Rebels hit back at the start of the second quarter. Instead of driving from a lineout, as the Sharks would have expected them to do, Quade Cooper’s long ball put Tom English over for the simplest of tries in the left-hand corner. Cooper slotted the conversion.
A nine-phase attack from the Sharks ended with an Esterhuizen knock-on, but the referee was playing advantage and Rob du Preez added three points to his team’s tally.
The Rebels took a 14-13 lead in the 31st minute when great hands from Cooper put Jack Maddocks away. The fullback beat his opposite number Aphelele Fassi and scored a converted try.
But another penalty from Rob du Preez put the hosts back in front going into the break, although he did miss one after the half-time hooter.
The Sharks extended their lead 12 minutes into the second half when, after some good work by the forwards, a long pass from Louis Schreuder meant Rob du Preez just had to dot the ball down to score. He added the conversion to make it 23-14.
The hosts struck again at the end of the third quarter when they went blind from a 5m scrum, and Makazole Mapimpi went over in the left-hand corner.
The winger thought he had scored a second in the 74th minute, but Marius Louw was instead yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle earlier in the movement.
The Rebels dominated the rest of the match, but were unable to score a converted try that would have given them a losing bonus point.
Sharks – Tries: Dan du Preez, Rob du Preez, Makazole Mapimpi. Conversions: Rob du Preez (2). Penalties: Rob du Preez (3).
Rebels – Try: Tom English. Conversion: Quade Cooper.
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtwarira.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Gideon Koegelenburg, 20 Luke Stringer, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Curwin Bosch.
Rebels – 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Tom English, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Matt Phillip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Matt Gibson.
Subs: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Rob Leota, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Stuart Dunbar.
Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix