The CA Technologies Brumbies season just got tougher – facing a return back to Australia without a win after capitulating in the second half to the Sharks at Kings Park, Durban on Saturday night.
Starting the match like a different team from the one that was blown away early by the Cheetahs last week, the CA Technologies Brumbies looked destined to turn their poor fortunes around with a win – at one stage leading 16-0, but could hold out the fast finishing Sharks going down 34-16.
The CA Technologies Brumbies failed to score a single point in the second half with the Durban based side making the most of their big forwards racking up seven points every 10 minutes.
Matt Giteau and Christian Lealiifano were again the CA Technologies Brumbies best, with the later being named man of the match on a losing side.
In total contrast to last week’s loss against the Cheetahs, the CA Technologies Brumbies started fast and held the momentum, working the ball into the Sharks 22 despite conceding two early penalties.
After mounting and sustaining some serious pressure, the forwards earned two penalties of their own, Giteau slotting them both to move his side into the lead 6-0 with less than 10 minutes having been played.
After 15 minutes, momentum turned for the Sharks – with wave after wave of attack peppering the CA Technologies Brumbies try line.
But a mistake on the CA Technologies Brumbies try line, a diving cover tackle from Adam Ashley-Cooper and desperation defence kept the Sharks scoreless, before Andrew Smith kicked, regathered and spun the ball to Lealiifano, who darted the length of the field to score the opening try.
The kick was successful and the CA Technologies Brumbies were looking in control, leading 13-0 after 20 minutes of play.
It was 25 minutes before the Sharks registered their first points, with young gun Pat Lambie nailing two penalties from right in front to bring the Sharks back into the contest but still training 13-6.
Five minutes from half time, with the CA Technologies Brumbies again defending their own line, every fan of the ACT based team held their breath as Giteau stumbled away from a tackle, looking like he had taken a head knock.
But the skipper continued through the pain, finishing the half to take his team to the shed with a 16-6 lead.
The CA Technologies Brumbies lost some of their momentum after the break, with the Sharks managing to turn the ball and grab a five pointer through JP Pietersen just two minutes into play.
With Lambie knocking that conversion over, the Sharks were right back in the game, trailing by just three points 16-13.
Just minutes later the Sharks again made the most of their territory – Steven Sykes scoring in the corner to move the home team into the lead for the first time in the game. Again Lambie was on target – giving the Sharks some breathing space and a four point lead 20-16.
The Sharks third try of the second half went to replacement back Adrian Jacobs, who found himself on the end of some loose ball and scooted 30 meters to score.
Lambie’s strong night with the boot continued and all of a sudden the Sharks held an 11 point lead and control of the match – 27-16 up with 20 minutes to play.
With 10 minutes to play, the CA Technologies Brumbies were looking tired and low on options, with the Sharks cutting through the defence and Pietersen looking odds on the grab his second try, but he put the ball down without a hand on him, keeping the visitors in with a sniff.
Turn over ball was a major problem for the CA Technologies Brumbies throughout the second half. It was one of the major reasons the CA Technologies Brumbies could not mount momentum, giving the ball away under pressure from some strong counter rucking by the Sharks.
In a final insult to the CA Technologies Brumbies, the Sharks grabbed their four-try bonus point with just three minutes left on the clock, when Anton Bresler crossed the line.
Again the shot went over, claiming a win for the Sharks, 34-16.
SHARKS 34 (Anton Bresler, Adrian Jacobs, JP Pietersen, Steven Sykes tries; Patrick Lambie 4 cons, 2 pens) bt CA TECHNOLOGIES BRUMBIES 16 (Christian Lealiifano try; Matt Giteau con, 3 pens) at The Shark Tank. Referee: Mark Lawrence
CA Technologies Brumbies
Stephen Moore (replaced by Huia Edmonds)
Jono Owen (replaced by Salesi Ma’afu)
Mark Chisholm (replaced by Ben Hand)
Mitchell Chapman (replaced by Michael Hooper)
Pat Phibbs (replaced by Josh Valentine)
Pat McCabe (replaced by Francis Fainifo)