Shocker! Sharks lose to URC whipping boys as Zebre win first match in 18 months
A shocking performance by the Sharks saw them suffer possibly their most embarrassing defeat, going down 12-10 to United Rugby Championship (URC) whipping boys Zebre Parma at Italy’s Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Friday night.
This was Zebre’s first win in more than 18 months as they went the whole of last season without a win or draw. They had lost 28 matches in a row until they met the Sharks, who looked like they were seeing a rugby ball for the first time.
Sharks boss John Plumtree had described this match as a must-win for his side as he did not want to return home from their four-week European tour without a single victory.
They had already lost to Munster, Leinster and Ospreys, a game many thought the Durbanites would win, but they failed to even get a losing bonus-point.
But his players’ performance was not that of athletes who were hungry and desperate for a victory.
The Sharks led 10-6 at the halftime break, thanks to try by Cameron Wright after 15 minutes of play and five points from Boeta Chamberlain’s boot.
However, their performance is still far from where it was supposed to be, with a concerning error rate. The Sharks conceded no less than 15 penalties in the match.
They had a yellow shown to Aphelele Fassi on the hour mark and a red card on 77 minutes for lock Hyron Andrews, who had been in on the pitch for about two minutes.
Chamberlain started at 10 due to an injury to first choice pivot Curwin Bosch, who had started at flyhalf in the previous outings.
It was Zebre who scored first and were in the lead until the Sharks scored their first try.
The Italians scored a penalty on six minutes through Gerónimo Prisciantelli which was cancelled by Chamberlain’s kick for poles three minutes later.
Zebre took the lead again on 13 minutes when young wing Jacopo Trulla scored a 50-metre penalty.
The Sharks went to the break leading, thanks to their excellent defending as they managed to hold off a powerful attack by the hosts in the final 10 minutes before halftime.
A high level of ill-discipline and bad game management stood out for the visitors as they continued to give away penalties.
Prisciantelli scored two more to give the hosts their first URC win since they defeated Welsh side Dragons on April 30 2022.
With four defeats on the trot, Plumtree has a tough job on his hands and will hope to have his Springbok players back in the side sooner than later to try to change the situation.
Zebre (6) 12 Penalties: Gerónimo Prisciantelli (3), Jacopo Trulla
Sharks (10) 10 Try: Cameron Wright Conversion: Boeta Chamberlain Penalty: Chamberlain
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