Sharks hold out for Highland win



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The Sharks maintained their unbeaten record after eight rounds of Super 14 rugby by beating the Highlanders by 17 points to 19.

The Sharks were not at all impressive missing five kicks out of eight and only managed to score two tries.

The Highlanders took an early lead after scoring two tries in a match that could easily have gone the other way.


The Sharks overcame an 11-point deficit after 20 minutes against the twelfth-placed Highlanders who threatened one of the bigger upsets of the season when they scored early tries to winger Fetu’u Vainkikolo and prop Clint Newland to lead the second-placed Sharks 14-3.


They were still ahead, 17-11, at halftime but the Durban-based Sharks scored the only points of the second period – a try to powerful No.8 Ryan Kankowski and a long-range penalty to Francois Steyn.

“We dominated the whole game but we went off the boil and let them back into it, especially in the last 10 minutes,” Sharks captain Johan Muller said.

The Highlanders had advantages of territory and possession throughout the match but poor handling and some poor tactics consigned them to their seventh loss of the season, their fifth by fewer than seven points.

“We showed tonight we’re not that far off the pace,” Highlanders captain Craig Newby said.

“It’s our fifth close loss but a bit of a downer after last week’s high.”

Vainikolo nabbed his fifth try of the season to open the scoring in the eighth minute, driving through one tackle, rising to his feet and forcing his way over the line after a midfield break by fullback Paul Williams.

He had a hand in the Highlanders second try 12 minutes later, making a strong run toward the right touchline, drawing the defense wide then sending the ball infield where Newby, then Newland drove to the line.

Flyhalf James Wilson converted both tries and added a 38th-minute penalty to complete their first-half scoring.

The Sharks, who struggled to find their combination under early pressure, eventually fought back with a try to flanker Jaques Botes and two penalties to Ruan Pienaar.

They then made a perfect start to the second half, scoring after only a minute when Kankowski darted through a lineout and intercepted a pass from halfback Toby Morland, dashing 45 meters to score.

Pienaar missed the conversion and a subsequent penalty which could have given the Sharks the lead and they had to wait until the 57th minute, when Steyn goaled from 55 meters, to hit the front for the first time.

Both sides had chances to score in the last quarter but poor goalkicking and some loose attacking play meant Steyn’s goal was the last points of the game.


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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