Sharks beat Highlanders to stay unbeaten



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A brilliant try by Ryan Kankowski and a long penalty shot from Francois Steyn lifted the Sharks to a slender 19-17 win over the Otago Highlanders Friday to remain unbeaten in this season’s Super 14 competition.

The South Africans lie second in the Super 14 table behind the Crusaders and went into the match firm favourites ahead of the Highlanders who notched their first win only last week.

But the New Zealanders appeared revitalised after beating the Lions last week and dominated territory against the Sharks, especially in the first spell when they went to the break with a 17-11 lead.

Sharks captain Johann Muller said his team deserved the win, despite dropping their guard in the first half.

“We dominated the whole game and for 10 minutes we went to sleep and let them back into the game,” he said afterwards.

“Even though we didn’t play well, we’re really happy with the four points we got tonight.”

In the end the difference lay in the more mistakes made by the Highlanders, who missed twice as many tackles as the visitors and made double the handling errors.

The third quarter was the crucial period for the Sharks, when No. 8 Kankowski scored a brilliant intercept try and outside centre Steyn kicked a huge 52-metre penalty to give them a lead they never surrendered.

The Sharks shocked the Highlanders just a minute into the second spell when the athletic Kankowski pounced on Highlanders halfback Toby Morland’s pass from a lineout to run nearly 50 metres unopposed to the line.

The Sharks hammered home their advantage after 55 minutes when outside centre Steyn banged a penalty over from within his own half.

A 40-metre penalty attempt by Highlanders flyhalf James Wilson narrowly went astray with seven minutes remaining and a botched drop goal attempt in the last minute sealed the fate of the brave home team.

The Sharks could have had a more comfortable cushion had kickers Ruan Pienaar and Steyn converted more of their opportunities.

The Highlanders dominated an action-packed first spell, taking just six minutes to put the first points on the board.

Dangerous winger Fetu’u Vainikolo finished a break down the right flank, when he was tackled short of the line but regained his feet to force his way over the line.

Powerful prop Clint Newland scored the second for the Highlanders when Vainikolo again featured in a break which took the Highlanders within striking distance.

No. 8 Craig Newby was dragged down down short of the try line but Newland was on hand to barge his way over from about three metres.

The South Africans hit back with their first try after 33 minutes when flanker Jacques Botes broke through an ineffective tackle by Highlanders prop Chris King to score.


Final score Highlanders 17 Sharks 19




Tries -Fetu’u Vainikolo, Clint Newland

Pen -James Wilson

Con – James Wilson (2)



Tries -Jacques Botes,Ryan Kankowski

Pen -Pienaar (2),Frans Steyn

Con –


Venue: Carisbrook, Dunedin
Referee: Ian Smith (Australia)
Assistant Referees : Stuart Dickinson (Australia), Josh Noonan (New Zealand)
TV Match Official : Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
Reviewer/Perf. Auditor : Kim Eichmann (New Zealand) 



15. Paul Williams,14. Matt Saunders ,13. Niva Ta’auso,12. Johnny Leota,11. Fetu’u Vainikolo,10. James Wilson,9. Toby Morland ,8. Craig Newby ( c ),7. Tim Boys,6. Adam Thomson,5. Tom Donnelly,4. Hoani MacDonald,3. Clint Newland,2. Jason Macdonald,1. Chris King

16. David Hall,17. Jamie Mackintosh/Keith Cameron,18. Isaac Ross,19. Hayden Triggs,20. Jimmy Cowan ,21. Daniel Bowden,22. Aaron Bancroft


15-1 : Stefan Terblanche, Odwa Ndungane, Francois Steyn, Bradley Barritt, Waylon Murray, Fred Michalak, Ruan Pienaar, Ryan Kankowski, Jacques Botes, Keegan Daniel, Johann Muller (captain), Steven Sykes, BJ Botha, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira.

Craig Burden, Deon Carstens, Jannie du Plessis, Albert van den Berg, AJ Venter, Rory Kockott, Adrian Jacobs.



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