Sharks break their tour duck
Sharks break their tour duckSHARE
The Sharks ended their Australasian tour by recording their first win of the month-long venture – beating a willing Western Force team 23-13 on Friday.
The visitors outscored the home team by two tries to one to end a five-match losing streak.
It was always going to be a game that was going to be decided by one moment of brilliance and Riaan Viljoen's second-half try was the decider. It finally gave the Sharks the belief that they can win.
While there was not shortage of effort, the execution on both sides were dire in the first half, while some of the match officials' calls were equally amateurish.
The Sharks were also their own worst enemies – missing 12 tackles in the first half alone, not to mention a string of handling errors and turnovers.
The Force's biggest problem was their scrum – which was not just rickety, but penalised frequently. It is the one aspect where their technique did not match up to their enthusiasm.
And they also conceded a few penalties at the line-out, mostly through illegal tactics employed against the Sharks' maul.
In the end the Sharks showed greater desire and ground out a deserved 10-point win.
The Western Force got off to a great start, playing with great intensity and getting early reward – Jayden Hayward slotting a seventh-minute penalty.
The Sharks managed to work their way through some questionable calls and held onto the ball long enough for captain Keegan Daniel to go over for the game's first try just after the end of the first quarter. Patrick Lambie's conversion made it 7-3.
But the string of errors, including a huge blunder on defence, allowed Kyle Godwin to step his way through the opposition and stroll over to regain the lead. Hayward added the extras – 10-7 just after the half-hour mark.
It stayed like that to the half-time break.
The Sharks started the second half with far more intensity and quickly got reward – Patrick Lambie slotting a 45th-minute penalty to level the scores up at 10-all.
Although the Force had a chance inside the Sharks 22, which they turned into a five-metre line-out, it was the Sharks who threatened next. From a turnover inside their 22 they raced upfield and won a penalty near the Force 10-metre line – which Lambie turned into a 13-10 lead.
A penalty, going against the Sharks at a ruck, allowed Hayward to level it up at 13-all in the 55th minute.
That was followed by a line-out penalty against the Force, for illegally stopping the maul, but Lambie was wide of the mark.
It mattered not. Minutes later Riaan Viljoen showed explosive power to go past a few tacklers for a second Sharks try. Lambie's conversion made it 20-13 to the Sharks, as the match moved into the final quarter.
With 12 minutes left on the clock Lambie had a chance to stretch the lead, but he again pushed it wide. With eight minutes left Lambie made amends, when the Force failed to roll away at a ruck – 23-13.
The Force now threw everything into attack, trying to get back into the game. but with a minute to go hooker Heath Tessmann knocked the ball on at a ruck right under the Sharks' posts.
That was followed by a scrum penalty to the Sharks, which was turned into a line-out and a kick into touch for a deserved win to the Sharks.
Man of the match: Patrick Dellit and Nick Cummins were exciting, while Ben McCalman, Chris Alcock and Matt Hodgson worked hard. Keegan Daniel had a much better game, Willem Alberts was powerful, Franco van der Merwe a workhorse and JC Janse van Rensburg put in some hard yards. Janse Van Rensburg came pretty close, but our award goes to Sharks fullback Riaan Viljoen, who produced the moment of magic that opened the game up and gave the Sharks the breathing space they needed.
For the Western Force:
Pens: Hayward 2
For the Sharks:
Tries: Daniel, Viljoen
Cons: Lambie 2
Pens: Lambie 3
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Matt Hodgson (captain), 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Rory Walton, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Junior Rasolea, 22 Sam Norton-Knight.
Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Meyer Bosman, 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 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 19 Tera Mtembu, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Piet Lindeque.
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia).