The Waratahs are bound to try to antagonise the Sharks at the breakdown this weekend after South Africa’s best province lost the plot in that area against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Greg Gowden writes for the Sydney Morning Herald that emotions ran high when the Sharks turned certain victory into a demoralising defeat as they lost two players – No.8 Ryan Kankowski and centre Francois Steyn – to the sin bin in the second half because of indiscretions at the tackle area.
Enjoying the advantage of having an extra man for 20 minutes of the second half, the Brumbies succeeded in rebounding from 18-7 down to score the next 20 points and celebrate the best comeback of this Super 14 season.
The Sharks have good reason to complain about the refereeing of New Zealander Bryce Lawrence, as several of his rulings were extremely harsh.
Lawrence at times seemed to be completely focused on picking up on Sharks misdemeanours, but the end result was that the visitors wasted an ideal opportunity to end their poor run in Canberra after being so dominant in the first half.
Lawrence persistently penalised the Sharks at the ruck, in particular for offside, and at one stage gave their captain Johann Muller “20 seconds to talk to your team” after numerous free kicks had been awarded against his side.
The team discussion obviously didn’t work, because a short time later Lawrence was directing Steyn to the sin bin.
But by the end of the game the message had obviously sunk in. Both Muller and Sharks coach Dick Muir said they had only themselves to blame for the breakdown brain explosions.
“It was stupid play on our behalf, we gave away too many penalties, we got under the referee’s skin and the game changed,” Muir said. “Discipline cost us and there’s no excuse.”
Muller added: “In the second half, our discipline was pathetic. We gave away too many penalties and free kicks and you simply cannot play with 14 men. You can’t hope to win when you have two yellow cards in the second half.”
Both vowed they would not make the same mistake against the Waratahs. They will also be relieved to know Lawrence will not be in charge of the Sydney Football Stadium encounter. Fellow Kiwi Steve Walsh will referee.
While the Brumbies’ win revives their slim hopes of making the semi-finals, the Reds’ victory over the Force in Brisbane on Friday night has probably ended the Perth franchise’s aspirations of making the cut-off for the first time.
The Force loss, their third in four matches, drops them to ninth spot, and their run home is not easy, having to play the in-form Chiefs, Hurricanes and Brumbies.Tweet