Sharks get the better of Hurricanes

The Sharks made a big statement when they claimed a vital 32-15 vicotry over the Hurricanes in Durban on Saturday.

There was plenty at stake for the Sharks against their in-form opponents but after soaking up the pressure during the first half they took control of proceedings after the interval and outscored their visitors four tries to two with JP Pietersen leading the way with a well deserved brace.

The home side, who were criticised for their poor attacking play in their previous matches, silenced their critics with a superb allround display and it was their ability to win the collisions as well as the set-piece battle which had a huge bearing on this result.

The win consolidates the Sharks' position in the Africa Two Conference table and although they are still in second place, they are just a point adrift of the Lions.

The Hurricanes' defeat is costly as it means they are still in fourth place in the New Zealand Conference, a point behind the Highlanders, who moved above them in the standings after their win over the Chiefs earlier on Saturday.

The Sharks thought they had scored the opening try in 11th minute when Garth April made a stunning break from inside his half and offloaded to Paul Jordaan, who dotted down under the posts, but the effort was disallowed as April's pass went forward.

April and Beauden Barrett then traded penalties which meant the sides were deadlocked at 3-3 after the opening quarter but the Hurricanes soon took a deserved lead when Reg Goodes got the opening try on the half-hour mark.

This after he ran onto an inside pass from James Marshall deep inside the Sharks' 22 and barged over with two defenders on his back.

Barrett missed the conversion which meant the visitors led 8-3, but the Sharks drew level on the stroke of half-time when Pietersen rounded off in the right-hand corner after an extensive period camped inside the visitors 22.

Five minutes after the restart, Pietersen pounced on a wayward pass from Brad Shields, close to the halfway line, to give the hosts the lead for the first time. 

After Shields threw a no-look pass, which went to ground, the Bok flyer booted the ball upfield and gathered in front of the Hurricanes' try-line before crossing for his second try.

April added the extras and with the score at 15-8 the Sharks upped the ante on attack. They were soon rewarded when Michael Claassens got over for their third try, after catching the Wellington side's defence napping when he took a tap penalty close to their tryline.

April's conversion was his final act of the match as he was replaced by Springbok pivot Pat Lambie, who added his first penalty shortly afterwards to give the hosts a healthy 25-8 lead.

The Sharks continued to dominate and sealed their win when Daniel du Preez got over for their fourth try, after breaking from the back of a scrum close to the Hurricanes' tryline in the 69th minute.

The Hurricanes didn't give up and were rewarded with a consolation try from Marshall, which denied the Sharks a bonus-point, five minutes before the end.

The scorers:

For Sharks:
Pietersen 2, Claassens, D Du Preez
Cons: April 2, Lambie
Pens: April, Lambie

For Hurricanes:
Goodes, Marshall
Cons: Barrett, Woodward

Sharks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira (c)
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Odwa Ndungane

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince SO, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Reg Goodes
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Willis Halaholo, 23 Jason Woodward

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Quinton Immelman, Rodney Bonaparte
TMO: Marius Jonker