Hurricanes edge Sharks 38-37 in Super Rugby
NAPIER, New Zealand (AP) — Center Ngani Laumape scored a try in the sixth minute of injury time and flyhalf Ihaia West kicked the conversion as the Hurricanes staged a remarkable escape to the beat the Sharks 38-37 in Super Rugby on Friday.
The Sharks, who were overwhelmingly the better team and deserved to win, led 37-28 after a 74th-minute try to replacement Tyler Paul and looked on course for their second consecutive win in New Zealand after crushing the Blues 63-40 last weekend.
But the Hurricanes reduced their lead to six points with a West penalty in the 76th and, in a long passage of play after the final siren which included a series of penalties against the Sharks who were down to 14 men, Laumape scored and West added the match-winning conversion.
“The last six minutes I’m really proud of the way we stayed composed and stayed patient,” Hurricanes captain Brad Shields said. “We left it a bit late but a win in that sort of style is pretty cool.”
Throughout the match, the Sharks dominated possession and territory and made all the play. They led 27-19 at the end of a first half in which the Hurricanes were forced to make 75 tackles to the Sharks’ 25, and in which the lead changed four times.
Flyhalf Robert du Preez, who was successful with 13 out of 13 shots at goal against the Blues, landed seven out of seven and won a try-saving turnover in another hugely influential performance.
The Sharks’ forwards were superb, wearing down the Hurricanes, and then allowing their backs to run hard at a Hurricanes defensive line which was brittle and disorganized.
The Hurricanes held an early 12-3 lead with tries to fullback Jordie Barrett and Laumape but the Sharks hit back with tries to center Lukhanuyo Am and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder. Both sides lost their starting scrumhalves to injuries before halftime.
A try to Laumape’s midfield partner, Vince Aso, won the lead back for the Hurricanes but a second try to Am sent the Sharks to the break with the advantage.
The second half opened with an exchange of penalties which left the Sharks with a tenuous 30-28 lead after 71 minutes. But Paul’s try gave the Sharks a more comfortable lead in sight of fulltime.
The Hurricanes responded with their best passage of play, while the Sharks, finally under pressure, lost their discipline.