The Sharks spluttered to a frustrating 24-all draw with the Waratahs at King’s Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon.
Coach Robert du Preez sr will not be a happy man as the home side only had themselves to blame for a result they patently threw away.
They were arguably the best team on the field throughout, definitely creating the majority of play but the Australians managed to cling on by simply feasting on the Sharks’ mistakes.
It was indeed a rather depressing outcome from a South African perspective.
Who was the star in this match?
Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am was outstanding in midfield, particularly the running lines he adopted in scoring his two tries. His defence was decent too but his distribution suffered. As a result, Waratahs flanker Michael Wells deserves this accolade. He hardly did fancy things but he completed a massive 15 tackles and, crucially, effected no less than four turnovers. By all accounts he played a major part in keeping his side in the game.
Key moments and themes
- All three tries the Sharks conceded were from mistakes. Flyhalf Robert du Preez fluffed a pass close to his goal-line, which led to a scrum and ‘Tahs scrumhalf Jake Gordon’s try. Michael Hooper, the opposition skipper, exploited a turnover and, bafflingly, replacement Mitch Short was the beneficiary of some sleepy defence from a poor tactical kick and some brilliant passing. None of those scores bubbled with initiative.
- The Sharks seemed to suffer from the stop-start nature of their season. They played on week one and then had a bye. As a result, they looked like a side playing their first game of the season again. 19 handling errors was simply unforgivable and their iffy line-outs robbed them of a good platform to attack from. It was ironic that Am’s second try came from a clean set-piece.
- The signs continue to look ominous for Thomas du Toit, who the Springboks hope can make an effective switch to tighthead. He wasn’t as under the pump as against the Lions but it was noticeable how the Sharks scrum dominated once Du Toit was replaced by John-Hubert Meyer. The patience with this switch won’t last long.
Sharks – Tries: Lukhanyo Am (2), Robert du Preez. Conversions: Du Preez (3). Penalty: Du Preez.
Waratahs – Tries: Jake Gordon, Michael Hooper, Mitch Short. Conversions: Bernard Foley (3). Penalty: Foley.