Sharks finish third on Super Rugby table
July 13, 2014
S'bura Sithole scored late for the Sharks
© Getty Images
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.
Communication error please reload the page.
Jenson Button was in an optimistic mood following Friday practice in Malaysia after seeing McLaren make a step forward from its dismal Australian Grand Prix pace
England full-back Mike Brown has been ruled out of Harlequins' Premiership showdown with Saracens at Wembley after showing signs of concussion after the Six Nations win over France
Three Real Madrid fans are set to be fined €3,001 each and banned from attending all games for six months after kicking and punching the cars of Blancos players, including that of Gareth Bale, on the night of the team's 2-1 defeat at Barcelona
The Lions have rounded out a fine Australasian tour with a third win from four matches, an 18-17 triumph over the struggling Queensland Reds in Brisbane
ESPN rounds up all the reaction from up and down the paddock after Friday practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix
Mudslinging and an agreement on something that will never happen, it's all in a day's work for a Formula One boss, as Maurice Hamilton explains...
Fallout continues from the NSW-Brumbies derby, with one Tahs forward - not Potgieter - surprised by other unsavoury comments during the game, Greg Growden reports
Greg Growden previews Super Rugby round 7. We've also got key stats, team news and all the line-ups to inform your ESPN Footytips Super Rugby picks
Will Mercedes dominate again? Can anybody catch up with the help of a rainstorm? And will the Red Bull/Renault relationship tear itself apart? All those questions and more will be answered at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix
Maurice Hamilton pieces together what we know from the Fernando Alonso crash and explains why the latest answers raise more questions
Tiger Woods is confident of recovering from a poor run of form to qualify for the US Ryder Cup team in 2016, according to captain Davis Love III
Jonas Gutierrez has told Canal+ he will never forgive Newcastle for the way the club treated him during his battle with cancer, but wants to stay at St James' Park beyond this summer
Lionel Messi earned more than €1 million (£740,000) a week last year to make him the world's highest-paid player and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was the best-paid coach, according to a new survey
Andy Murray has expressed fears that his game will regress without full-time coaching in a candid exchange with a fellow Twitter user as he prepares to add former world No.4 Jonas Bjorkman to his coaching team
Luis Suarez has laughed off the idea that the Barcelona players have set out to help Lionel Messi beat Cristiano Ronaldo to La Liga's top scorer award
Unbeaten heavyweight Dillian Whyte, 28, (14-0, 11 KOs) tells ESPN where his rivalry with Anthony Joshua stems from and outlines the plan for his career this year after returning from a doping ban in November
Some of the best fighters to ever glove up have plied their trade in the Octagon - now ESPN list the 10 best who have fought under the UFC banner
Who was the first Briton to win the British Grand Prix?
Where does Anthony Davidson's record of 24 Grands Prix without a point rank him?
How many F1 drivers have had one win, but done it at their home Grand Prix?