rugby Sharks win

SHARKS -16

BLUES -9

FROM MIKE GREENAWAY AT KINGS PARK

THE Sharks have their share of bogey teams – the Reds and the Cheetahs spring to mind – but in turn one wonders how Auckland’s finest feel about a Sharks team that yesterday extended their victory streak over them to a magnificent seven?

The Sharks have not lost to the Blues since 2005, when Kevin Putt’s team got hammered in New Zealand, and yesterday’s performance was as good – if not better – than any of the previous six. The Sharks were outstanding, and even a touch astounding, in the manner they dominated a Blues side that came close to walking on water in beating the Crusaders the week before.

If the round one win over the Cheetahs was rusty and workmanlike at best, this Sharks win was a lot more polished, and the morale and confidence boosting performance is as valuable as the eight Super Rugby log points the Sharks will pack into their kit bags when they leave for Perth tonight.

Stefan Terblanche’s team struck the right balance between keeping the ball and kicking for territory, their set pieces were very good and when the Blues began fashioning a comeback in the second half, the home team’s defence was up to the challenge.

There was also a drop of drama to boot as the game grew ever suspenseful at 19-12 and the Blues threatening to salvage a draw at least but with 10 minutes to go the mercurial Keegan Daniel, plucked a Blues pass out of the air, juggled it and then fed JP Pietersen for a 50m rebound try (had it not been for Daniel’s intercept, the Blues might well have exploited a three-man overlap to telling affect).

It is hard to believe that a year ago the Sharks were also leaving on tour at this stage of the competition, but had lost both home games, and this time around Sharks fans can realistically expect their team to build on this good start given that the first two games are eminently winnable – against the Force and then the Rebels in Melbourne.

A snapshot of the Sharks improved showing was the opening try, which was the culmination of a quite extraordinary passage of play that saw the Sharks explore their entire repertoire of tricks, starting with a big set scrum and including big charges from Bismarck du Plessis and Willem Alberts, then a series of controlled phases and nudges ahead off the boot from Daniel and then finally Patrick Lambie, two metres from the line, who was able to regain the ball and score a superb team try just three minutes after kick-off.

The Shark attacks continued unabated from the re-start and the on eight minutes Lambie, who had a briilliant game, goaled a penalty to push his team out to 10-0, with the Aucklanders barely having visited the Sharks’ half, but when they did, they were immediately awarded a penalty when scrumhalf Mathewson was played without the ball, and Stephen Brett kicked a beauty from 40m out.

And five minutes later the Sharks infringed at a lineout near their 22 and Brett kicked his second, and at 10-6 the Sharks’ emphatic start had to a degree been nullified by ill discipline.

On the quarter mark, Blues lock Anthony Boric was penalised for playing Daniel in the air, and Lambie pushed the Sharks’ lead out to seven points.

But two minutes later The Beast was penalised for putting his hand on the deck at a set scrum. A tough call and a tough way to concede three points, but this area – a prop putting his hand down to stabilise himself – is one of the law focuses this year because there is a contention that he can then scrum powerfully upwards.

Ten minutes before half time, Mathewson was offside at a ruck in his 22, Lambie made no mistake with the boot and the Sharks were 16-9 in front.

Three minutes after the break the Sharks nailed the crucial first score of the half – after offside at a ruck – and Lambie’s fourth penalty gave his team a 10-point lead.

The Sharks ought to have put the Blues irredeemably away at this stage when first Lwazi Mvov was tackled a metre short of the line and them Alberts lost the ball while crashing over.

There was a hint of desperation about the flood of Blues substitutions 10 minutes into the second half, including Luke McAlister for flyhalf Brett, as the visitors tried to get their game going.

All Black McAlister’s early involvement was to kick a penalty to get his team in the picture at 19-12, but his team’s comeback was thwarted by Daniel’s typical opportunism.

Scorers

Sharks: Tries: Patrick Lambie, JP Pietersen. Conversions: Lambie (2). Penalties: Lambie (4)

Blues: Penalties: Stephen Brett (3), Luke McAlister.

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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