Sharks’ young guns fire vainly in second half

They were said to be on a hiding to nothing but the Sharks showed great resolve in the second half en route to a 24-12 defeat in their United Rugby Championship clash against Connacht on Saturday night.

For much of the match however they played with all the cohesion of a team that had met through a dating site, and had travelled via the middle of the earth to honour this fixture.

The Sharks, after all arrived at the conclusion they have bigger fish to fry in the shape of Bordeaux who they meet in the Champions Cup next week. All their big guns remained at home while the young ones were pushed into battle against opponents of a different calibre.

Still, it was an opportunity for the Sharks to showcase their reserve power and though they came up short in atrociously testing conditions, this team will be better for it.

Rohan Janse van Rensburg toiled hard, while the bench contributed richly in their more concerted second-half effort.

The first half however took a heavy toll.

The line-out bordered on shambolic as Fez Mbatha’s feeds often met an opposing hand first, while the ones they were able to grab came under extreme duress.

The scrums were a mess prompting referee Adam Jones to read both sets of front rowers the riot act in the 17th minute.

Up until that point neither side had much to work with by way of attacking platform. The hosts however responded to that alert. Not long after they earned a penalty that was kicked to the corner flag.

It wasn’t just in selection that the Sharks picked their battles. They opted not to contest that line-out but vainly opted to put all their eggs in a ground-based basket.

Connacht’s second try also came from first phase possession. It was from a scrum near centrefield that they hit to the right chipped over the defence allowing outside centre Tom Farrell to regather. He drew the defence before adroitly delaying his pass to midfield partner Cathal Forde.

The Sharks appeared up for the fight in the second half but their good work was undone when Nevaldo Fleurs’ attempted clearance was charged down. To be fair left-wing Marnus Potgieter was equally culpable for delivering a pass the flyhalf appeared not to expect.

The Sharks were able to string more phases together in the second half and they met reward when Janse van Rensburg showed great determination to reach for the line. Dian Bleuler also scored to bring more respectability to the scoreline.


Connacht (24) — Tries: Conor Oliver, Cathal Forde (2), Tiernan O’Halloran. Conversion: Jack Carty (2).

Sharks (12) — Tries: Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Dian Bleuler. Conversion: Lionel Cronje.

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