Sharks beat Ospreys for first win in United Rugby Championship
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Durban – The Sharks shrugged off their United Rugby Championship blues in spectacular fashion in Swansea on Friday night when they downed the Ospreys 27-13 and looked a thoroughly rejuvenated side in the process.
The Welsh team were completely outplayed by a Sharks side that had seemed shell-shocked in their first two tour matches — heavy defeats to Munster and Glasgow — but during the week coach Sean Everitt had said his team had learned lessons, had done their homework and had a sound plan to beat a home team that boasted British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones, and fellow Lions Rhys Webb and Adam Beard.
Pivotal to the Sharks’ success was the impressive performance of Boeta Chamberlain at flyhalf, a position where the Sharks have faltered in recent games, while Ruan Pienaar at scrumhalf was simply masterful in controlling the game.
Chamberlain will never forget a night where he kicked a stunning hat trick of drop goals.
Six minutes into the game the Sharks had suffered an injury setback when Thaakier Abrahams limped off to be replaced by Werner Kok, who would go on to have a typically effervescent game.
In that early period, the Sharks had shown willingness to attack but they kept getting penalised at the breakdowns, with referee Frank Murphy penalising them three times for infringements at the rucks, with one of them, after two minutes, resulting in flyhalf Gareth Anscombe continuing his 100 percent record in the competition with the kicking tee.
There was plenty of positive effort from the Sharks, including an exciting passage of play that began when Ruan Pienaar intercepted near his try line and broke down 80m later after a rampage from Ntuthuko Mchunu.
But it was the Ospreys who scored next, inevitably from a Shark player being penalised for offside at a ruck, and Anscombe made it 6-0.
The Sharks immediately responded through a drop goal from close range by Chamberlain, who found himself in prime position after Pienaar had taken a quick tap penalty and raced into the Ospreys’ 22.
Chamberlain was at it again in the 25th minute, this time a very impressive drop goal from much deeper to even the scores at 6-6.
Thomas du Toit then forced a scrum penalty from the Ospreys loosehead but Chamberlain missed from far out, as had Pienaar earlier on. To be fair, both were ambitious attempts.
The Sharks went into the break knowing that the Ospreys were there for the taking, and they had emphatic confirmation of that just over a minute into the half when lanky Hyron Andrews gathered a Chamberlain grubber through the defence and he galloped 20m before offloading to the supporting Jeremy Ward for the try. Pienaar converted for a 13-6 lead.
And as the game hit the three-quarter mark, the Sharks accelerated further into the lead when effective phase play and then simple moving of the ball into space put wing Marnus Potgieter clear for a run to the line.
Pienaar missed the conversion but Chamberlain made up for that when he stroked over his third drop goal. 21-6
The Ospreys worked a forward rumble over the line for a consolation try but two more Pienaar penalties kept the Sharks comfortably clear.
Ospreys – 13: Tries: Tom Botha. Penalties: Gareth Anscombe (2). Conversion: Anscombe
Sharks – 27: Tries: Jeremy Ward, Marnus Potgieter. Drop goals: Boeta Chamberlain (3). Conversion: Ruan Pienaar. Penalties: Pienaar (2).