Sharks finish third on Super Rugby table
July 13, 2014
S'bura Sithole scored late for the Sharks
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Long-time Super Rugby leaders Sharks had to settle for third place on the table despite a clinical 34-10 away win over the Stormers on Saturday. The Durban-based team ran on to the pitch at a cold Newlands stadium in Cape Town needing a 35-point bonus-point victory to snatch second place from the Crusaders, but the improbable target soon became impossible and two tries in the final four minutes gave the Sharks a flattering scoreline.
Finishing third on the combined standings means Sharks miss out on a bye next weekend and a home semi-final. Instead, they must host the Highlanders on Saturday and, if successful, play the seven-time champion Crusaders away a week later in the semi-finals. The Brumbies host the Chiefs in the other play-off with the winners set to meet the table-topping New South Wales Waratahs for a final place..
"We could have done with another few minutes," Sharks skipper and hooker Bismarck du Plessis quipped, referring to the late try surge. "I hope all South Africans will cheer us on against the Highlanders and we are not looking any further than the play-off."
Stormers skipper Schalk Burger hailed the Sharks as a team capable of becoming the second South African side to lift the trophy after the Bulls.
"The way they won here had all the hallmarks of a champion side. They had three try-scoring opportunities and scored three tries. "We kept them deep in their half for almost the entire second half, but could not put any points on the scoreboard."
Stormers 10-34 Sharks (Australia only)
The Stormers were the form team going into the South African derby with four wins in five matches, while the Sharks had lost three of their previous five games. The Cape Town team also had the psychological boost of a shock 21-19 triumph in Durban before the June Test break.
The Sharks suffered several blows after fly-half Francois Steyn had kicked a fourth-minute penalty, as flank Willem Alberts was yellow-carded and they conceded a try one minute later. Livewire Stormers flank Nizaam Carr was credited with a pushover try, which angered Du Plessis, who believed referee Jaco Peyper should have used the television match official.
Big-screen replays of the score did not show Carr scoring as a group of Stormers surged over the line. Fly-half Kurt Coleman converted only for Steyn to kick three more penalties and give the visitors a five-point advantage. A Coleman penalty narrowed the gap before Sharks centre Paul Jordaan dotted down for an opportunist try that Steyn converted for a 19-10 half-time advantage.
Steyn potted his fifth penalty five minutes into the second half before the Stormers camped in Sharks territory without managing to score. Right-wing S'bura Sithole put the outcome beyond doubt with a breakaway try on 76 minutes that Steyn converted. And a minute into stoppage-time, replacement back Stefan Ungerer dived over in the corner but his try went unconverted.