You would be forgiven for thinking you are in a parallel universe if you watched the first half. The Sharks were leading the Highlanders in Dunedin and not just fractionally. An impressive 3-27 lead!
It must be said that the Sharks with good quality for their lead. Although the Highlanders weren’t at their best, despite the smattering of All Blacks, the Sharks were utterly dominant.
The key was going to be if the Sharks could keep their concentration for the whole 80 minutes and if the around-the-world traveling would take its toll.
The New Zeeland rugby machines is however a totally different beast…
They were their own worst enemy through the first 50 minutes of the game. Whenever they had the ball they were error-prone and looked like they were unsure of what to do. They basically looked like an Australian Super Rugby team at the start of the season.
After their first try, they were however able to start a bit of a comeback and were finding their stride in many facets of the game.
The efficiency improved with every phase. The error county slowed down with every possession and they turned it into a game in the last 20 minutes of the contest.
Their comeback efforts were definitely admirable but just came too late in the game. Errors in the first 50 minutes were their downfall and it was a combination of horrible handling errors as well as
The Sharks dominated absolutely every facet of the game in the first half. After going down 3-0 in the first half they started kicking into gear. After the first two penalties, the last 10 minutes of the first half was a crushing display!
As the 2nd half started it looked like it was just going to be more of the same. They took the score out to 3-30 with another great kick from Curwin Bosch.
Were they going to keep their cool? The next 10 minutes the wheels started coming off however and it looked like it was going to be another day of heartbreak in NZ.
The lucky Fassi try however sealed a victory that you had to say was well deserved for the Sharks.
Highlanders: Josh Dixon(5), Aaron Smith (9), Mitchel Hunt (10), Jona Nareki (11)
Sharks: Curwin Bosch (10), Lukhanyo Am (12), Madosh Tambwe (14), Aphelele Fassi (15)
ThysRugby player of the game: Aphelele Fassi. Despite Curwin Bosch keeping up his 100% kicking record, Fassi was just sensational
Plays of the game
- That first half of the Sharks!
- The Highlanders getting the scrum penalty after messing up their own lineout on 60 minutes
- THAT scrum followed by the cross-kick resulting in the Highlanders try in the corner by
- The Sharks turning a defensive into a penalty after pushing back the Highlanders over 10 meters!
- The little tap back in-field to put in Michael Collins for a try in the 75th minute
Highlanders: took 50 minutes to find their stride, but were outplayed for the most part by a Shark team. A large number of errors need to be addressed and worked on during the coming week.
Sharks: more clinical than they have been in the last 5 seasons! Their play was a joy to behold and a really encouraging sign for the 2020 season. Can they keep this up?