Sharks hold off Queensland 35-20 in Super Rugby
DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — The Sharks withstood a furious second-half fightback by the Queensland Reds to claim a 35-20 victory and open up a five-point lead at the top of Super Rugby on Saturday.
The home side led 25-6 at halftime but spent most of the second half defending as Queensland narrowed the gap to 28-20 with 17 minutes remaining.
However, prop Dale Chadwick’s first try in the competition sealed the game for the Sharks in the final minutes to make it four wins out of four and put them five points clear of the second-place Chiefs.
The Reds were left to reflect on missed chances, with centre Mike Harris and fullback Aidan Toua both dropping the ball with the tryline at their mercy.
The effect was that they were constantly chasing the game, forcing them to turn down goalkicking opportunities to go in search of tries, and the Sharks’ seven penalty kicks to two was ultimately decisive.
“We had some opportunities and probably didn’t make the most of them,” Reds captain James Horwill said.
“We gave the Sharks some ball position and some ill-discipline really cost us - they’ve got some great goalkickers and that showed on the scoreboard.”
Although the Reds started brightly, their two early penalties were matched and bettered by the Sharks as Patrick Lambie and Francois Steyn gave the hosts a 12-6 lead after 26 minutes.
The Sharks built momentum from there and scored the game’s first try soon after when flanker Willem Alberts forced his way over from close range.
Lambie and Steyn added another penalty apiece to put the Sharks 25-6 ahead, and the Reds went into the break disappointed after seeing Harris knock on when he had a clear run to the line.
There was further frustration at the start of the second half when Toua made a similar mistake, but the visitors kept pushing and were rewarded when Harris burst through the Sharks defense in the 54th minute.
Another Lambie penalty gave the Sharks some breathing space, but when scrumhalf Will Genia found a chink in the home side’s armour to score, just eight points separated the teams.
However, replacement flanker Beau Robinson’s yellow card with 12 minutes remaining took the wind out of the Reds’ sails, and substitute Chadwick duly landed the knockout blow for the Sharks.
Sharks 35 (Willem Alberts, Dale Chadwick tries; Patrick Lambie 2 conversions, 5 penalties; Francois Steyn 2 penalties), Queensland Reds 20 (Mike Harris, Will Genia tries; Quade Cooper 2 conversions, 2 penalties). HT: 25-6