Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
17 Oct 2021
9:18 am

‘Unlucky’ Sharks gutted after falling short in Cardiff

Ken Borland

The Sharks enjoyed 59% possession and 69% territory in the second half but failed to make it really count on the scoreboard.

Ruben van Heerden in action for the Sharks against the Cardiff Blues. Picture:

Fullback Matthew Morgan and centre Willis Halaholo cruised over for soft tries as the Sharks suffered a crushing first half which left them with too much to do after the break, going down 23-17 to Cardiff in their United Rugby Championship match at Arms Park on Saturday night.

Those early strikes put Cardiff 17-0 up but the Sharks showed compelling determination as they scored 10 points – prop Thomas du Toit powering over for try – in the last 10 minutes of the first half to set up an intriguing encounter.

In the second half, the visitors closed to within three points with nine minutes remaining as their kicking game – Cardiff being unable to control a good up-and-under – led to a penalty, followed by a lineout maul and strong carries by the forwards, then a super long pass out wide by replacement flyhalf Joaquin Diaz Bonilla to put wing Marnus Potgieter over for the try.

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But either side of that, Cardiff flyhalf Rhys Priestland kicked two penalties, which were enough to secure victory for the home side.

What was galling, however, for the Sharks was how they enjoyed 59% possession and 69% territory in the second half but failed to make it really count on the scoreboard.

“It’s a very disappointing result because a lot of effort went in, particularly in the second half,” coach Sean Everitt said.

“But we were just not good enough to get across the line. One needs to be clinical at this higher level and we were not as good as we should have been at taking out chances.

“We were under the pump in the first half, but we did exceptionally well to get back into the game.

“In the second half we spilled chances close to the line, and credit needs to go to Cardiff for how well they defended. But with a bit of luck, we would have won this game.”

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The Sharks’ early problems lay in defensive failures. Cardiff fullback Matthew Morgan was able to change direction behind a scrum outside the visitors’ 22 and then burst through two weak tackles to score the opening try, followed by centre Willis Halaholo knifing through from a set-play at a lineout after Sharks fullback Curwin Bosch had inexplicably dropped a kick.

Between them, Bosch and Ruan Pienaar were like archers shooting with a bow blowing in a gale as three penalties were missed.

And while the Sharks’ pack put in a fine performance in the second half, dominating the collisions with ball-in-hand and putting in the big hits in defence, it was credit to the bravery of the Cardiff defence that they stood firm, also repelling a handful of rolling mauls inside their 22.

Scorers

Cardiff – Tries: Matthew Morgan, Willis Halaholo. Conversions: Rhys Priestland (2). Penalties: Priestland (3).

Sharks – Tries: Thomas du Toit, Marnus Potgieter. Conversions: Curwin Bosch, Boeta Chamberlain. Penalty: Chamberlain.