Sharks scrum Canes into submission
The Sharks scored their second win of the Super Rugby season when they beat the Hurricanes 27-9 in Durban on Saturday.
There will be satisfaction with the win, but unhappiness that they did not win further and score a four-try bonus point.
There are two reasons for not winning by a bigger margin – some questionable calls by Australian referee Andrew Lees and the Sharks' own inability to retain their structure and be more clinical.
The Sharks put down an early marker in the scrums, shoving the Hurricanes backwards for almost 10 metres and winning a penalty. The scrum penalties continued to mount throughout the match. Later short-arm free kicks for skew feeds became full penalties.
The Hurricanes, with considerable leeway from the referee, resorted to all kinds of spoiling tactics as their pack struggled to deal adequately with the collective mass of the Sharks' forwards.
And the visitors opted for a wild, free-running game in which they displayed some sublime off-loading. However, the Sharks, for most part, scrambled very well and snuffed out the danger.
The biggest problem for the home team was that they were sucked into a helter-skelter game and lost their structure – resulting in a number of errors that gifted the visitors counter-attacking opportunities.
It didn't help either that some of the Sharks had white line fever and their options were shocking, to say the least.
The first real scoring chance went to the Sharks – Jack Lam penalised at a tackle. Patrick Lambie made no mistake – 3-0 after just five minutes.
The Hurricanes escaped a few times close to their line – with their tactics certainly raising a few eyebrows – before Willem Alberts barged his way over from close range, following a powerful maul. Lambie's conversion made it 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Just after the half-hour mark Beauden Barrett got the Hurricanes on the board, one of a few questionable penalties awarded to the visitors. Marty Banks landed a second penalty, from 55 metres out, three minutes from the break as the Hurricanes managed to close the gap to 6-10 at half-time.
The Sharks had the first scoring opportunity after the break, a powerful maul bringing a penalty to the Sharks and Lambie adding the three points – 13-6.
With the referee getting ever more vigilant on the Sharks, while literally turning a blind eye to the Hurricanes' transgressions, the home team allowed their frustration to get the better of them and Alberts conceded a silly penalty. Barrett made it a four-point (9-13) game.
With the final quarter approaching Julian Savea went offside just outside his 22, in what appeared to be a very cynical attempt to kill off a promising attack, and Lambie slotted the resulting penalty – 16-9.
Lwazi Mvovo gave the Sharks the breathing space they needed in the 65th minute – as he intercepted a pass wide out and sprinted clear. Lambie's conversion fell short. but at 21-9 the Hurricanes had a mountain to climb.
With eight minutes to go the Hurricanes were reduced to 14 men – replacement Adam Hill was yellow carded for a spear tackle at a ruck.
Another scrum penalty, in the 77th minute saw Lambie make it a 24-9 lead. Lambie had time for a fifth penalty, making the final score 27-9.
Man of the match: Jack Lam enjoyed the freedom afforded to him by Aussie referee Andrew Lees and had a big impact at the breakdown. Ryan Kankowski showed just how impressive he can be when a game opens up, but his tackling let him down too often. There were considerable contributions by Pieter-Steph du Toit. Marcell Coetzee and Willem Alberts. However, our award goes to the Sharks front row of Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, along with Tendai Mtawarira. The Sharks scrum set the tone right from the very first set piece and the Hurricanes never really had much of a hope after that.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Alberts, Mvovo
Pens: Lambie 5
For the Hurricanes:
Pens: Barrett 2, Banks
Yellow card: Adam Hill (Hurricanes, 72 – foul play, spear tackle)
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 S'bura Sithole.
Hurricanes: 15 Marty Banks, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Hadleigh Parks, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 John Schwalger, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Adam Hill, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 James Marshall.
Referee: Andrew Lees
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Deon van Blommestein