Defending champions Canterbury Crusaders held on for a hard-fought 13-10 win over the Sharks on Saturday in their Super 14 match at King’s Park.
“We had so many opportunities, but our final decisions and our handling let us down,” said Sharks captain Johann Muller.
“Our finishing was terrible tonight.”
The Sharks started well, with a try by lock Steven Sykes in the 10th minute, after absorbing early pressure.
RugbyHeaven Aus reports that Crusaders flyhalf Stephen Brett then kicked a 25th-minute penalty goal before flanker Kieran Reid burst away from a ruck and fed No. 8 Scott Waldrom. Waldrom fed Richie McCaw who cantered over unchallenged in his return to Super 14 rugby following injury.
Brett converted and the halftime score was 10-7 to the Crusaders.
Scrumhalf Andy Ellis stretched the lead to 13-7 just after the break with a drop goal, and the Crusaders spent much of the rest of the match defending as the Sharks threw everything into attack.
Scrumhalf Rory Kockott kicked a 70th minute penalty to make it 13-10.
After the final hooter had sounded, the Sharks held onto the ball through a succession of attacks, but three-quarter replacement Charl McLeod lost the ball in the tackle deep inside the Crusaders 22-meter area.
The Crusaders defense then kicked the ball out to clinch the victory.
“It’s never easy when we come to Durban,” said McCaw.
“Over the last few weeks, the belief has come back to us.”
CRUSADERS 13 (Richard McCaw try Stephen Brett con pen Andrew Ellis drop goal)
SHARKS 10 (Steven Sykes try Rory Kockott con pen)