13 years ago, the Sharks were involved in one of the worst games in Super Rugby history – a 5-6 loss to the Reds.
On Saturday evening, they tried to provide another contender for that dubious honour with a 9-all draw against the Rebels at Kings Park.
Two red cards, poor skill levels and shocking decision-making.
There’s no way around it: this was an appalling game of rugby.
Who was the star of this match?
23-year-old flanker Will Miller recently signed a short-term contract with the Rebels, only because of the side’s injury crisis.
He’s a dairy farmer in New South Wales, who wakes up at 4am and drives two hours to train with his club, Northern Suburbs.
On Saturday he made his Super Rugby debut and proved his club coach – who said he’s a brilliant fetcher – right.
Miller was a nuisance – making 8 tackles and making an incredible 4 turnovers. One of those was the penalty that helped the Rebels draw.
Key themes and events
- The Sharks were on the back foot after 17 minutes when centre Andre Esterhuizen was given a straight red for a tip tackle on Rebels wing Sefa Naivalu. Naivalu’s head crashed into the turf first and Esterhuizen knew he was doomed.
- Nic Stirzaker, the Rebels skipper and scrumhalf, was also sent off for two yellow cards. Both times he slapped potential scoring passes down. It was baffling.
- Because they had a man missing in the backline, the Sharks didn’t try to play too expansively and rather tried to keep it tight. There were times when the ball was crying to be spread wide, but they seemed to decide that it was too dangerous. There was one “memorable” attacking moment where they wasted a three-man overlap with a poor pass.
- By all accounts the Rebels’ discipline – they conceded 18 penalties – was shocking but ironically, the Sharks’ indiscretions cost them far more. This despite them only conceding six penalties. Esterhuizen’s red robbed the hosts an attacking opportunity and replacement lock Ruan Botha grabbed an opponents neck in a maul that led to a Sharks try. Instead, the high tackle meant the home side were penalised.
- Following off-colour Curwin Bosch’s third penalty, the Sharks tried to play down the clock instead of kicking into the Rebels’ half. Thomas du Toit hung on too long and the Rebels escaped with their final penalty kick. It said everything that needed to be said.
Sharks – Penalties: Curwin Bosch (3).
Rebels – Penalties: Reece Hodge (3).