The Sharks winning start to the season came to an abrupt end at the Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday.
The Hurricanes, their first match hope after a murderous road trip, ran the Sharks ragged in this Round Three outing – outscoring them by five tries to tries – to win 38-22.
It was 17-all at the end of a very competitive first half, but the Hurricanes – despite a three-week trip that took them on a 30,000 (or more) around-the-world trip – dominated the second half, when they were expected to run out of gas.
There was a disappointing end to the match, when a Dane Coles cheap shot sparked a melee three minutes from time. The All Black hooker was fortunate not to get carded, as the ruling was that there was ‘some attempt’ to wrap his arm around in the late hit – for which he was penalised anyway. Coles was involved in another scrap in the final moments, and received a formal warning, after running from some way out to lash out at Sharks players.
It was a telling Ben Lam double after the break that put the momentum firmly with the Hurricanes in the second half.
The Hurricanes, in their first home game after opening in South Africa and Argentina, produced an entertaining first half with the Sharks.
Visiting props John-Hubert Meyer and Juan Schoeman combined in a move that would have done any backs proud to cross the line early for the Sharks only to be pulled back for a forward pass.
The Sharks eventually produced the first try with an 80-metre move that started with an intercept by skipper Lukhanyo Am and was finished by Madosh Tambwe.
In a flurry of scoring midway through the half, Jordie Barrett entered the backline to put Wes Goosen over for the ‘Canes first try, the Sharks responded immediately with a long-range try to replacement flyhalf Sanele Nohamba before a Barrett cross-kick put Ngani Laumape on a 50-metre run to the line.
With penalties by Barrett and Nohamba padding out the scoring, they turned level at 17-all and the Hurricanes opened up a dominant lead with Lam’s twin long-range strikes in an ill-tempered second half.
Dane Coles, in his first outing of the year, scored from a line-out drive to put the Hurricanes ahead 38-17 with the Sharks scoring with a late try to Mzamo Majola.
“We did score some really good tries – the likes of Lam, Nans [Laumape] they did their thing – but the three tries we let in we will be disappointed with,” Hurricanes captain Thomas Perenara said.
Man of the match: Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi enhanced his growing reputation, while wing Madosh Tambwe also clocked some impressive metres. Their best player was replacement Sanele Nohamba – with great allround play. For the Hurricanes Du’Plessis Kirifi – a late replacement for Reed Prinsep – impressed with his workrate, especially on defence. You can always look at influential strike runners like Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumape. Our award goes to the Hurricanes’ flying All Black wing Ben Lam – who not only scored a crucial double early in the second half, but pushed his run-metres well beyond three figures.
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Goosen, Laumape, Lam 2, Coles
Cons: Barrett 5
For the Sharks:
Tries: Tambwe, Paul, Majola
Cons: Chamberlain, Nohamba
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11
Ben Lam, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Thomas Perenara (captain), 8 Gareth
Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Isaia
Walker-Leawere, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Liam Mitchell, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Billy Proctor.
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Andre
Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Louis
Schreuder, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron
Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nché, 18 Mzamo Majola, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Dylan Richardson, 21 Phepsi Buthelezi, 22 Sanele Nohamba, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Rebecca Mahoney (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)