Sharks brought back to earth with a thud

Sharks brought back to earth with a thud

Wes Goosen of the Hurricanes is tackled by Andre Esterhuizen of the Sharks during the round 3 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Sharks at Westpac Stadium on February 15, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Masanori Udagawa/Getty Images)

The Durbanites move away from their core strengths and are duly punished by an enterprising Hurricanes outfit.

The Sharks came back down to earth with a thud as they suffered a frustrating 22-38 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.

After delivering an outstanding performance against the Highlanders last week, Sean Everitt’s charges were guilty of playing far more looser, moving away from their core strengths and consequently making errors that were punished by their opponents.

It provides ample evidence that this promising outfit still needs some work to reach the heights they’re capable of.

Who was the star in this match?

Canes winger Ben Lam delivered a superb performance, showcasing all the virtues expected of a modern winger at the top level. He was predatory in scoring his brace of tries, particularly his second where he contested brilliantly for an aerial ball.

But he also completed all of his tackles and won a turnover too.

Key moments and themes

  • Following their impressive exploits in Dunedin last week, the Sharks lacked control in this match. Instead of sticking to a sturdy defence and playing on the counter, they attempted to match the hosts in terms of the attacking stakes. There were some bright moments in the first half, with fullback Aphelele Fassi and replacement flyhalf Sanele Nohamba impressing with their exploitation of space. But the lack of accuracy came to bite them back.
  • Another major problem for the Sharks was their pronounced lack of discipline. They conceded 10 penalties, five of which came in the first 18 minutes of the game. That’s an unacceptable number, allowing the Hurricanes a lot of momentum. It also didn’t help that the Durbanites had precious little of a set-piece platform to work from, losing no less than five lineouts.
  • While the Sharks certainly didn’t look ragged, injuries also played a major part in depriving them of stability. Inspirational Bok winger Makazole Mapimpi failed a head injury assessment early, before young flyhalf Henry Chamberlain befell the same fate, meaning Nohamba, a scrumhalf, had to deputise at 10.
  • The Hurricanes didn’t exactly deliver a vintage performance, but their ruthless attacking play and composure in capitalising on opposition mistakes. After patently embarrassing themselves in the season opener against the Stormers, the 2016 champions look very much on the mend.
  • Tempers became a bit frayed in the second half, with two prominent scuffles breaking out.

Point scorers:

Hurricanes – Tries: Ben Lam (2), Ngani Laumape, Wes Goosen, Dane Coles. Conversions: Jordie Barrett (5). Penalty: Barrett.

Sharks – Tries: Madosh Tambwe, Tyler Paul, Mzamo Majola. Conversions: Sanele Nohamba, Henry Chamberlain. Penalty: Nohamba.

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