Sharks return to winning ways
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The Sharks snapped a five-game losing streak with a deserved 23-13 victory over the Western Force in Perth on Friday to keep their hopes of reaching the Super Rugby playoffs just about alive.
Losing finalists last year, the Durban-based outfit had been forced to deny rumours of divisions within the squad this week after losing the first three matches on their Australasian tour.
Tries from skipper Keegan Daniel and fullback Riaan Viljoen either side of halftime combined with 13 points from the boot of flyhalf Pat Lambie, however, were enough to see off a willing but limited Force side.
“It was pure guts and effort, we were under a lot of pressure this week after five losses in a row and I'm very proud of the way the boys put their hands up,” Daniel said in a pitchside interview.
The home side had some bright moments, not least through the performance of their 20-year-old try scorer Kyle Godwin, but for all their efforts, fell to a 10th defeat in 13 matches this year.
Matching the visitors big hit for big hit, the Force started with great intensity and fullback Jayden Hayward gave them the early lead with a penalty in the eighth minute.
The Sharks hit back when number eight Daniel forced his way across the line in the 23rd minute after the South Africans had gone through 16 attacking phases.
Lambie converted to put his side 7-3 ahead but the Force finally got reward for their attacking endeavour after half an hour when Hayward made a break and offloaded to centre Godwin, who weaved his way through the cover defence to score.
That was enough for a 10-7 halftime lead for the hosts but two penalties from Lambie edged the Sharks in front early in the second period, only for Hayward to level the score at 13-13 after 55 minutes.
Lambie missed a chance to put his side back in front five minutes later but the Sharks won a turnover when the Force attempted to take the ensuing dropout quickly and Viljoen scythed through the defence to touch down.
Another conversion from flyhalf Lambie gave the Sharks a seven-point cushion, which he extended with his third penalty six minutes from time.
The Force never gave up and replacement scrumhalf Brett Sheehan touched down with seconds remaining for a try that would have given them a bonus point, only for the television official to rule that there had been a knock-on. – Reuters