Sharks smash Rebels in try-feast
Sharks smash Rebels in try-feastSHARE
The Sharks set all kinds of records on their way to a humiliating 64-7 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Durban on Saturday.
It was the Rebels' biggest defeat, beating the 50-point margin (3-53) the Reds beat them by in 2011. The 64 points scored against them by the Sharks were beaten just once before – a 24-66 loss to the Hurricanes, also in their debut year.
The 10 tries the Sharks scored also represents a record.
The Sharks, who had scored just three tries in the four previous matches this season, scored their third try inside a half-an-hour of this match. The bonus point, for four tries, was secured inside 35 minutes.
And by the 55th minute they had equalled the highest number of tries they had ever scored in a Super Rugby match (nine) and broke the record for most tries in a match before the hour mark was up.
The game had a number of spiteful incidents, with the Rebels in particular allowing their frustration to get the better of them and then resorting to niggle.
Another issue for the Rebels was a late change made just before kick-off – with playmaker James O'Connor moved to fullback and Angus Roberts at flyhalf. It backfired badly, as O'Connor – the Rebels' most valuable product – was never in the game.
The Sharks' set pieces were far superior to those of the Rebels, who were constantly on the back foot in the scrums, and the home team also won some impressive turnovers at the breakdown.
In fact the Sharks' set piece dominance saw them win a rare scrum turnover inside the first quarter.
The Rebels also had no answer when the Sharks opted to use the maul as a method of attack.
The Sharks had another poor start – with Patrick Lambie missing his first penalty shot at goal in the blustery conditions, Lambie then throwing a forward pass to Jacques Botes and Paul Jordaan unable to hold onto a pass from Lwazi Mvovo.
However, the home team quickly put that behind them – with quick hands, some sublime off-loading and quality phase play putting fullback Louis Ludik into space and over in the left corner for the opening score of the match. Lambie added the conversion to make it 7-0 after eight minutes.
The Sharks' next scoring opportunity – a penalty just outside the Rebels 22 – came from a piece of sublime interplay between JP Pietersen and Cobus Reinach, with Pietersen's quick trow-in catching the Rebels unawares. However, Lambie's shot at goal drifted wide.
With the Rebels finding themselves on the wrong side of a number of calls, the Sharks opted for a line-out close to the Rebels line – from where they strolled over, with Marcell Coetzee having an armchair ride over the line. Lambie landed this one – 14-0 after 24 minutes.
Going into the second quarter the Sharks were reduced to 14 men, with Cobus Reinach ruled to have lifted rival Nick Phipps beyond the horizontal and then not bringing him down safely to the ground. The confusing aspect is that the referee asked the TMO to make a call and then overruled the TMO.
However, the 14-man Sharks team continued to stamp their authority on the opposition – another couple of penalties taking them to a line-out five metres out – from where Jacques Botes received the armchair ride over the line through another strong maul. Lambie again failed to add the extras, but at 19-0 the game was fast getting out of reach of the visitors.
The bonus-point try was not long in coming – Keegan Daniel flopping over from a ruck close to the line, after the Rebels had brought another maul to the ground. Lambie was again off target, 24-0 after 35 minutes. That's how it stayed to the break.
And the men from Durban wasted no time after the break – the Sharks blowing through a ruck near the Rebels 22 and Kyle Cooper picking up the ball, shrugging off a few tackles and racing over for the fifth try. Meyer Bosman, taking over the goal-kicking, added the extras – 31-0 after 42 minutes.
It went from bad to worse for the rebels, a sloppy pass after 14 phases handing the ball to Cobus Reinach – who sprinted 60 metres without a hand being laid on him. Bosman's conversion made it 38-0 after 45 minutes.
Tendai Mtawarira then joined the try-feast as he worked his way over from close range, after yet another penalty that became a line-out, and then a maul. Bosman made it 45-0.
The rout continued with Ryan Kankowski going over after a move from a scrum on the centre spot – the big No.8 showing his pace to out-sprint the cover. Bosman made it 52-0.
The ninth try went to Louis Ludik, but the build-up saw some sublime inter-passing between Kankowski and Keegan Daniel. Bosman made it 59-0, as the Sharks continued to pile on the records.
The Rebels were reduced to 14 players just before the final quarter, when James O'Connor was sent to the sin bin for a lifting tackle on Lwazi Mvovo – again the referee opting to override the TMO after initially asking for his advice.
And moments later Riaan Viljoen strolled over for a record 10th try by the Sharks. Bosman, after the ball fell over, took a drop-kick conversion, but was wide – 64-0.
Scott Higginbotham eventually broke the Rebels' duck, going over after a succession of penalties and free kicks near the Sharks' line. O'Connor, back on the field after his cooling down period, added the extras – 7-64.
By now the Sharks were scrappy, playing a game resembling backyard touch-rugby.
The game ended with the Sharks launching a late, unsuccessful raid on the Rebels' line.
Man of the match: JP Pietersen, Louis Ludik and Cobus Reinach were the best among the backs. However, the forwards set up the win, with far more intensity in their game – players like Keegan Daniel, Marcell Coetzee, Jacques Botes, Franco van der Merwe, Kyle Cooper and Tendai Mtawarira all making huge contributions. However, young second row forward Pieter-Steph du Toit was the spark that got the big black engine going and he won our award.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Ludik 2, Coetzee, Botes, Daniel, Cooper, Reinach, Mtawarira, Kankowski, Viljoen
Cons: Lambie 2, Bosman 5
For the Melbourne Rebels:
Yellow cards: Cobus Reinach (Sharks, 26 – foul play, lifting tackle), James O'Connor (Rebels, 58 – foul play, lifting tackle)
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Jandré Marais, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Francois Steyn, 22 Riaan Viljoen.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Mitchell Inman, 12 Lachlan Mitchell, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Aloe-Emile, 18 Cadeyrn Neville, 19 Jordy Reid, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Rory Sidey, 22 Richard Kingi.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)