The Sharks ran in four second half tries to seal a 34-16 win over Australia’s Brumbies in their Super rugby match at Kings Park on Saturday.
Trailing 16-6 at halftime, the hosts scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to secure their seventh win in 11 matches and move to within four points of the Stormers in the South African conference.
The defeat consigned the Brumbies to their third consecutive defeat but they had given full value for their halftime lead as the hosts made a plethora of errors.
“It was a massive second half performance from my guys and I’m just happy we came away with the five points,” Sharks captain Stefan Terblanche said in a televised interview.
The visitors were by far the more impressive team in the first quarter and their industry was rewarded by two Matt Giteau penalties and a try for inside centre Christian Lealiifano.
Lealiifano galloped clear from his own 10m line after the Sharks had conceded a turnover on the Brumbies’ tryline.
Right wing Andrew Smith successfully chased an up-and-under and the ball travelled through three pairs of hands before setting up the flying Lealiifano.
The Sharks seemed unable to keep their composure and they turned down two kickable penalties while losing three of their own lineouts in the first 20 minutes before finally opening their account courtesy of a penalty from flyhalf Patrick Lambie in the 26th minute.
Three minutes later Lambie added a second penalty before Giteau restored his team’s 10-point advantage before halftime with his third successful penalty.
The Sharks began the second half with far more intent and, three minutes after the resumption, they finally breached their opponents defence when wing JP Pietersen stretched over to score in the tackle.
The hosts were building up a head of steam and, in the 53rd minute they took the lead for the first time when a tighthead, five metres from their opponents’ tryline, led to a try for lock Steven Sykes.
With 15 minutes left in the contest, Sharks replacement centre Adrian Jacobs took an inside pass from hooker Bismarck du Plessis to sprint 30 metres for a converted try.
With time running out replacement lock Anton Bresler crashed over for the bonus point try.
“I thought we were pretty good in the first half but our intensity and physicality dropped off in the second half and you can’t afford that against a team like the Sharks,” Brumbies skipper Giteau said. – Reuters