Sharks and Waratahs in tame draw
SUPER RUGBY REPORT WITH HIGHLIGHTS: The Sharks and Waratahs played to a tame 24-all draw in a scrappy game in Durban on Saturday.
The match, littered with errors in the sapping heat and humidity, saw the teams score three tries each.
The Sharks - under new coach Robert du Preez - showed plenty of endeavour, but struggled with their execution.
In fact they dished out a master-class of how to waste possession.
The Waratahs, as they did against the Stormers last week, kept coming back after gifting their hosts the lead.
The hosts' forwards had a clear advantage over their opponents and their backs looked potent against a fragile Waratahs defence whenever the ball came their way.
The Sharks made the better start to the game, but the visitors scored first.
When the Sharks failed to gather possession cleanly, scrumhalf Louis Schreuder carried the ball over his own tryline. Awarded a five-metre scrum, Waratahs scrumhalf Jake Gordon attacked the blind side and cruised through a gaping hole to score. Flyhalf Bernard Foley slotted the conversion.
The Sharks responded with a Rob du Preez penalty and Lukhanyo Am's first try, which came after a linebreak from his midfield partner, André Esterhuizen.
With their confidence up, the Sharks turned down a regulation shot at goal in favour of a five-metre scrum. It proved to be the wrong option as the Waratahs successfully defended their tryline. And 10 minutes before the break, Foley nailed a penalty to draw the Waratahs level.
The Sharks regained the lead early in the second half when a set move from a line-out saw Am break through the defence for his second try.
But the Waratahs were then gifted a try when Keegan Daniel took a quick throw-in to himself and lost the ball in the process. Loosehead Tom Robertson scooped up possession, drew the defender and freed up Hooper to score under the posts.
The Sharks cleared their bench and the reserves made an immediate impact. The all-new front row dominated the scrum and back Marius Louw's chip and chase led to a 70th-minute try for Du Preez.
That appeared to have earned the Sharks a hard-fought win, but the Waratahs then scored a try through Short with five minutes remaining.
Foley kept his cool to add the touchline conversion and earn the Waratahs a draw.
Man of the match: Michael Hooper was a constant menace and Israel Folau kept the Sharks defence honest. Andre Esterhuizen was powerful with ball in hand and on defence, while Lwazi Mvovo also had a few good runs. The biggest impact came from Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am - who was rewarded with two great tries for his powerful bursts. His performance was not flawless, but good enough to win our award.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Am 2, Du Preez
Cons: Du Preez 3
Pen: Du Preez
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Gordon, Hooper, Short
Cons: Foley 3
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Jacobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Lubabalo Mtembu, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Curwin Bosch.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Michael Wells, 5 Tom Staniforth, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Kalivati Tawake, 19 Nick Palmer, 20 Will Miller, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Alex Newsome.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Archie Sehlako (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)