Reece Hodge kicked an 80th-minute penalty as the Rebels drew 9-9 with the Sharks in a dour match in Durban on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Some might say that a draw was a fair result in that neither side deserved to win. It was a terrible contest that witnessed mistakes, infringements, and cards galore.
Both teams finished the game with 14 men. André Esterhuizen received a straight red card in the 18th minute for a reckless tackle on Sefa Naivalu, while Rebels captain Nic Stirzaker copped his second yellow of the evening for a deliberate knock-down in the 69th minute.
The Sharks were forced to play 63 minutes of the match with 14 men. While the loss of Esterhuizen left them with a mountain to climb, they should be disappointed with the result.
Prior to this fixture, the Rebels had never won a game in South Africa. The men from Melbourne may consider a draw against one of the traditional South African powerhouses as a sign of progress.
The Sharks should be gutted. After Esterhuizen was binned, they had their chances to strike back. They did well to remain in the contest and at half-time the Rebels held a 6-3 lead.
Ultimately the hosts were undone by their own mistakes, as well as some shocking decision-making. The Sharks dropped too many passes, and Curwin Bosch missed two attempts at goal.
Captain Tera Mtembu turned down several shots at the posts in favour of pushing for the lineout and a potential seven-pointer. It was the wrong decision for a team reduced to 14 men, and the wrong decision in the context of a low-scoring game.
James Hanson was yellow-carded in the 53rd minute, and this gave the Sharks some hope. Yet the hosts failed to register a single point while the Rebels hooker was in the bin.
Bosch kicked a penalty in the 64th minute to level the scores. Stirzaker received his second yellow shortly after that.
The Sharks looked to have blown a further three-point opportunity when Michael Claassens took a quick tap under the Rebels' posts and was turned over. The Sharks received another chance, though, and Bosch kicked them into a 9-6 lead.
In the final play, the Sharks looked to run the clock down, and made an absolute hash of it. The Rebels won a penalty at the breakdown, and Reece Hodge bisected the uprights to ensure that the game finished as a draw.
Sharks – Penalties: Curwin Bosch (3).
Rebels – Penalties: Reece Hodge (3).
Sharks – 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Tera Mtembu (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Odwa Ndungane.
Rebels – 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Ben Volavolae, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Fereti Sa'aga.
Subs: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Tom Moloney, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 S Tuipulotu.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images