Sharks make history in Christchurch
May 17, 2014
JP Pietersen and Sibusiso Sithole celebrate the Sharks' first try
© Getty Images
The Sharks have claimed an amazing victory against the Crusaders, the Super Rugby ladder leaders defeating the seven-time champions 30-25 despite playing with just 14 men after Jean Deysel was red-carded for stomping Jordan Taufua on the face, in the 16th minute, and for 10 minutes with 13 men after Willem Alberts was sin-binned in the 63rd minute.
The Sharks had never beaten the Crusaders in New Zealand, and the Crusaders had not lost at home to South African opposition since 2001, when the Lions triumphed 32-31 in Nelson, but this was a night for history. The Sharks outscored their hosts three tries to one, and they were troubled only rarely in defence as the Crusaders failed to display the width with which they had shredded Queensland Reds in Brisbane six days previously.
The Crusaders had won their 50 previous home games against South African and Australian opponents, and they must have thought they were set to extend that run despite an error-riddled performance when Colin Slade kicked a penalty with seven minutes to play, to give them a 25-23 lead. But the Sharks immediately penned their hosts in the defensive 22 and replacement hooker Kyle Cooper, on the field for just seven minutes, exploited poor defence to rumble over for a converted try from a driving maul.
Crusaders 25-30 Sharks (video available only in Australia)
Jean Deysel's red card in the first half, for stomping, was a key moment in the game © Getty Images
Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis said the early departure of Deysel, with the score 7-7, had ultimately worked in favour of his side. "A red card that early in the game just brings the team so much closer together," he said. "Everybody talked so much, it made my job so much easier."
The Crusaders led 13-10 at half-time, but the Sharks went ahead when Cobus Reinach toed a loose ball 50 metres and scored a try almost immediately after the break. The teams then traded penalty goals before Alberts was yellow-carded for foul play, to deliver what seemed to be a fatal blow to the visitors' hopes, but the back-rower returned to play his part in the driving maul that set up the decisive try for Cooper.
Richie McCaw and the Crusaders couldn't immediately comprehend their loss to the Sharks © Getty Images
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