Sharks leave it late to down Blues

Sat, 29 Jun 2013 14:38
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A last-minute try from Riaan Viljoen saw the Sharks squeeze out a 22-20 win over the Blues in Durban on Saturday.

A last-minute try from Riaan Viljoen saw the Sharks squeeze out a 22-20 win over the Blues in Durban on Saturday.

Having trailed 17-5 at half-time, the Blues managed to keep the home side scoreless in the second half until the last minute when they held a slender 20-17 lead.

However, the home side showed good patience in their quest for the winning try, and were rewarded when Viljoen crashed over with time running out.

In a tussle of two halves amid perfect mid-winter conditions in Durban, the Sharks dominated the opening exchanges and should have enjoyed a bigger lead than 17-5 by half-time at Kings Park.

Superb scrumming by the home side was a feature of the first 40 minutes and although they continued to have the upper hand in this area after the interval, the Blues saw more of the ball in the second half and turned it into points.

Right wing Frank Halai went over for his second try two minutes after half-time and just a few minutes after All Black Ranger came on he picked up a loose ball to dot down and flyhalf Chris Noakes converted.

It was 17-17 with 30 minutes left and the Blues edged in front just past the hour mark when another replacement back, playmaker Baden Kerr, succeeded with his only penalty kick.

The Blues, needing a victory to boost chances of a top-six finish and a place in the knock-out phase of the competition, clung to the three-point advantage as time ticked away.

But the Sharks, boosted by the entry off the bench of hooker Bismarck du Plessis for his first Super Rugby appearance in almost a year after a knee injury, applied constant late, multi-phase pressure.

However, the efforts of backs and forwards were being halted just short of the Blues try-line until the Sharks sent the ball down the line and Viljoen took his chance to score a third Super Rugby try this season.

It was good end to a troubled week for the Durban outfit with New Zealand-born coach John Plumtree parting ways after a seven losses in 13 outings, having taken them to the final last year.

While the victory leaves Sharks with a slender mathematical chance of making the top six, they would need bonus-point South African derby wins away to the Bulls and home to Kings, and other results to go their way.

The Blues are also still in the reckoning and as they recover from this bruising battle, will hope the Stormers do them a big favour later Saturday and beat fellow South Africans and top-six occupants the Cheetahs.

Flank Marcell Coetzee and scrumhalf Charl McLeod were the Sharks' other try scorers and while flyhalf Patrick Lambie missed five of eight goal kicks, his two conversions and penalty took him past the 500-point Super Rugby mark.

Man of the match: The Sharks were dominant at scrum-time largely thanks to Bok loosehead Tendai Mtawarira who also got around the park well and made some valuable ground.

The scorers:

For the Sharks:
Coetzee, McLeod
Cons: Lambie 2
Pen: Lambie

For the Blues:
Halai 2, Ranger
Con: Noakes
Pen: Kerr

Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Louis Ludik, 12 Andrew James, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Edwin Hewitt, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Jaco van Tonder.

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Francis Saili, 11 George Moala, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Quentin Macdonald, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Kane Barrett/Culum Retallick, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Rene Ranger.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Tiaan Jonker (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa)
TMO: Willie Roos (South Africa)

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Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
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Force 16 3 0 13 19
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Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26