Sharks and Crusaders progress to semi-finals
July 21, 2012
Flanker Marcell Coetzee helped the Sharks into the Super Rugby semi-finals with a win over the Reds © Getty Images
The Sharks ended the reign of the Reds as Super Rugby champions with a 30-17 win in Brisbane that takes the South Africans through to the last four.
New Zealand outfit the Crusaders also made it through to the semi-finals after they dominated the Bulls to win 28-13. They will now meet the Chiefs in their 11th last four appearance, while the Sharks' win has set up an all-South Africa semi-final against the Stormers.
Super Rugby Finals Series
In Brisbane, the Sharks' JP Pietersen grabbed their first try when he raced over in the corner. He then turned creator when he set up centre Paul Jordaan for the second. Frederic Michalak added two conversions, a penalty and a drop goal, but on the stroke of half-time Will Genia popped up on Scott Higginbotham's shoulder to score a try that gave the holders some hope.
Early in the second half Mike Harris missed the chance bring the Reds to get further back into contention when he pushed a penalty wide and the Sharks made them pay immediately when Charl McLeod intercepted and raced in from the half-way line. Digby Ioane and Adam Wallace-Harrison went close for the Reds, but Michalak slotted another penalty with three minutes remaining and Radike Samo's try was too little too late.
The Reds were left to rue a try that was ruled out after Ioane and Liam Gill both went close in the 56th moinute. There was some disappointment with the way that referee Jonathan Kaplan phrased his question to the Television Match Official. "I don't want to rue the opportunity, but if we'd scored that try we would have been right back in the game," Reds captain Will Genia said.
Earlier in the day, the Crusaders controlled their qualifier from start to finish and after Dan Carter had slotted two penalties he then set up Zac Guildford for the only try of the match. Carter added a third penalty for the break and after an error-strewn half Morne Steyn kicked the Bulls first points of the match to go in 16-3 down at the break.
Carter's boot continued to keep the Bulls at bay and the fly-half added another 12 points in the second half. Wynard Olivier and flanker Dewald Potgieter both crossed for tries, but it was the seven times champions who stayed in control as Carter took his personal tally for the night to 23 when he kicked a penalty on the stroke of full-time.
"I think in the first 20 minutes we kept them down the field and didn't give them any momentum and while our attacking play was good we couldn't finish, but we kept up at it until we eventually did," Crusaders' captain Richie McCaw said. "They got a try and the game changed and the momentum changed and we got into a bit of an arm wrestle."
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