Sharks end Reds' winning run
March 17, 2012
Radike Samo goes on the charge for the Reds © Getty Images
The Sharks ended the Reds' unbeaten start to the season with a 27-22 win at Kings Park on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the Sharks finishing victorious, it was the Reds who got the scoreboard ticking over first when hooker James Hanson crashed over the line in the ninth minute. Mike Harris added the extras from the tee and it was the Reds who scored the next points in the match through flanker Scott Higginbotham. Ben Lucas converted and added a penalty moments later to give the Reds a commanding 17-0 lead. But credit to the Sharks, they rallied and Jan Andre Marais' try put them on the board. Pat Lambie's conversion and penalty meant it was 10-17 at the break.
And it was the Sharks who started the second-half better with Keegan Daniel going over in the 53rd minute with Lambie adding the extras. Replacement Nick Frisby then scored for the Reds only for Riaan Viljoen to run in a try for the Sharks in the 59th minute. Lambie converted the score for what proved to be the final points in the game as the Sharks ran out victorious.
And elsewhere on Saturday, the Highlanders stretched their winning start to this season's Super Rugby competition to four games with a 19-17 victory over the Hurricanes in Wellington. The Highlanders grabbed the opening try of the game through fly-half Colin Slade but the Hurricanes went into the break with a narrow 14-13 lead thanks to a try of their own from winger Cory Jane and the kicking exploits of Beauden Barrett. Slade edged his side back in front from the kicking tee in the early stages of the second half only for the lead to change hands again thanks to Barrett's fourth penalty ten minutes from time. But the Highlanders had the final say with replacement Chris Noakes knocking over the match-winning penalty to propel his side to the top of the New Zealand Conference.
In the day's second game, the Western Force opened their 2012 account with a 21-20 victory over the Waratahs in Sydney. Adam Ashley-Cooper's first try for the hosts and another from fellow winger James Kingston gave the Waratahs a 14-13 lead at the break despite a yellow card for lock Dean Mumm with Force stand-out James Harvey keeping his side in the contest with a try, two penalties and a conversion. Harvey edged his side ahead early in the second half before two penalties from Tahs playmaker Daniel Halangahu saw the lead change hands once again. But Force winger Samu Wara crossed just past the hour mark for what proved to be the match-winning score.
The Stormers made it three from three in this year's competition with a commanding 27-17 win over the Blues in Cape Town on Friday night. The South African franchise are only matched by the Highlanders and reigning champions the Reds in being unbeaten so far this season and they set out their stall from the off with Joe Pietersen nailing two penalties in the first ten minutes. Bryan Habana then capitalised on a lucky bounce to dive over for a try after 14 minutes but Pietersen failed to convert. Lachie Munro got the Blues on the board after 27 minutes with a penalty only for Pietersen to stroke over two more to give the Stormers a 17-3 lead at the break.
And the Stormers continued their charge in the second 40 with Jean de Villiers crashing over after 51 minutes to extend their lead. But moments later outside centre Benson Stanley crossed the whitewash for the Blues to cut the points difference to 14 - following Gareth Anscombe's conversion. And prop Charlie Faumuina's try seven minutes later cut the deficit further with the Blues threatening an impressive comeback. But Pietersen's penalty after 72 minutes helped to stretch the Stormers' lead and they held on for a valuable victory.
Elsewhere on Friday, The Chiefs made it three wins in row with a last-gasp 29-22 victory over the previously unbeaten Brumbies in their Super Rugby clash in Hamilton. All Blacks fly-half Aaron Cruden capped a week that saw him sign a new deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Chiefs by claiming a 19-point haul sealed with a 78th minute conversion after centre Jackson Willison crossed for the match-winning try. Cruden and his Brumbies' counterpart Christian Lealiifano shared six penalties in the first half and their kicking duel continued after the break before Chiefs prop Sona Taumalolo notched his third try of the season. Brumbies replacement Sam Carter dragged his side back into the contest with a try three minutes from time only for Willison to send the home crown home happy.
In the weekend's final game, the Cheetahs notched their first win of the campaign with a dramatic 33-26 victory over the Melbourne Rebels. Cheetahs winger Willie Le Roux grabbed two tries and saw a yellow card in an eventful first half that saw the visitors claim a 20-10 lead. The Rebels, yet to register a win this season in three attempts, fought their way back into the contest with fly-half James O'Connor, who ended the game with 21 points, steering his side into the lead midway through the second half. But back came the Cheetahs with fly-half Johan Goosen pulling his side level before replacement Petrus van Zyl struck with what proved to be the match-winning score after the hooter.
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