Sharks snatch defeat from jaws of victory against Hurricanes
The Sharks snatched defeat from the jaws of a deserved victory when Ngani Laumape’s late try saw the Hurricanes win a game they had no business doing so.
The Sharks‚ who led 37-28 with six minutes to go‚ somehow found themselves losing 38-37 after Laumape’s try and Ihaia West’s 77th-minute penalty salvaged what looked like a lost cause for Chris Boyd’s side at McLean Park in Napier.
What the Sharks did prove was they weren’t one-trick-show-ponies after their big win against the Blues last week.
The Hurricanes were a smarter‚ better defensively orientated and more resourceful side‚ something that played out for the better part of the game when they had to weather ferocious attacking storms from the Sharks.
While the Sharks still have a tough home leg‚ which includes the bulk of their South African derbies‚ Robert du Preez’s side look to have turned the corner after their abysmal Australian leg of the tour.
The fact the Sharks led 27-19 at half time was testament to their newly found tenacity‚ patience and adherence to their offloading basics.
The Sharks side that fumbled through Australia would have imploded after the Hurricanes took a 12-3 lead through tries from Jordie Barrett (seventh) and Ngani Laumape (15th).
However‚ 20th and 24th minute converted tries from Lukhanyo Am and Louis Schreuder respectively saw the visitors roar back into the contest in no uncertain terms.
While a rare defensive lapse allowed Hurricanes outside centre Vince Aso to score a long-range 30th minute try that originated from a kick-pass from deep in the Hurricanes’ 22‚ Am responded for the visitors five minutes later when he dotted down from close range.
Robert du Preez’s boot ensured the Sharks had their noses in front through his two first-half penalties and three conversions.
The second half‚ while exciting in its own right‚ descended into an arm-wrestle as the Hurricanes realised the Sharks may struggle to keep up their in-your-face physicality.
West kept the scoreboard ticking with three penalties that narrowed the deficit to two points.
Du Preez also nailed a 54th-minute penalty but Tyler Paul’s 72nd-minute try looked to have pushed the Sharks into an impregnable position.
The Hurricanes were not about to be denied and through West’s penalty three minutes from time‚ their fightback had taken serious shape.
With their ability to retain possession‚ they continually wrote the Sharks cheques they cashed until substitute hooker Franco Marais was yellow-carded for a professional foul in the 82nd minute.
The dummy was eventually spat three minutes from the end‚ along with the four points the Sharks fully deserved.
Tries: Jordie Barrett‚ Ngani Laumape (2)‚ Vince Aso
Conversions: Ihaia West (3)
Penalties: West (4)
Tries: Lukhanyo Am (2)‚ Louis Schreuder‚ Tyler Paul
Conversions: Robert du Preez (4)
Penalties: Du Preez (3)