It’s fair to say that ‘it’s a hard place to go’ is one of the most widely used and imprecise phrases in rugby, South Africa is about the money.
pretty much everywhere in South Africa. It doesn’t have to be high, it’s enough that it’s on their pitch in their conditions, and they’re primed to do what South African teams love more than anything: smash opponents.
For this redesigned Leinster, chasing another win to make himself uncatchable at the top of the URC, there was a melee between the Learnings and Takeaway columns to see who had the best intelligence at the end of the day. They were trumped by the Sharks and, unusually for Leinster, a lost bonus point was a creditable return.
As the weather worsened, the game became more chaotic, particularly for the referee team, who were under a lot of pressure from the Sharks to close the gap between Leinster’s dwindling number and the scoreboard. In the end, it was the Sharks who lost a man as the game almost became a farce, but for Leo Cullen’s squad of greenhorns, the battle scars from a 13-man fight will be worth the pain.
So Leinster’s place at the top is not yet guaranteed, with the hard-fought Stormers coming this weekend and then 21 MaySt They are at home in Munster in the last regular round. It remains to be seen how many of this group can tie a shoe when the knockouts arrive, but either way all will be better off for the experience.
Lessons began to move toward the exam point in the third quarter when substitute Josh Murphy was collected for a not-too-subtle interference at the alley and got hotter and heavier on break-in. Murphy was only on the field for seven minutes when he hit the turf. After conceding a well shunted maul try a few minutes earlier, this was food and drink for the locals.
So let some traffic run off the bench, have a few guys treated for timely injuries, and park all thoughts of comfort zones. It helped that it was sloshing down at that point, increasing the handling challenge for the Sharks, but soon they were down to 13 when another substitute, Lee Barron, was also trashed on a withdrawing set piece.
Leinster quickly made a patchwork quilt, but between Bongi Mbonami and Phepsi Buthelezi plowing through a game, Leinster looked like the sneak was all but over.
Still, they managed to end the game by pressuring the Sharks line while the TMO worked overtime. Like many efforts these days, they were literally held up.
Still, from new lads John McKee and Lee Barron sharing hooking duties to a clatter of other lads with limited knowledge of this style of rugby, it was worth the effort. Tommy O’Brien is slightly above that class and he had a good game from completing the best score of the night to proving he was a very useful porter in exit games.
Sharks: A Fassi; Kok W, Tapuai B, Louw M, Mapimpi M; C Bosch, J Hendrikse (G Williams 73); O Nché (N Mchunu 69), B Mbonambi (K van Vuuren 68; yc 80), T du Toit (Captain) (K Mchunu 75), L Roux Roets, G Grobler; S Kolisi, H Venter, (J Labuschagne 58), P Buthelezi.
Leinster: C. Cosgrave (J. McKee 65); T O’Brien, J Osborne, C Frawley, R O’Loughlin; H Byrne (D Hawkshaw 62), N McCarthy (C Foley 66); A Porter (P Dooley 57), J McKee (L Barron 56; years 61-71), T Clarkson (M Ala’atoa 47), B Deeny (J Murphy 47; years 54-64)), J Dunne, R Ruddock (Captain), M. Deegan (M. Moloney 60), S. Penny.
Referee: N Amashukeli (Georgia).
Scorers: Sharks 28 (M Mapimpi, J Hendrikse, B Mbonami, P Buthelezi each try; C Bosch 4 Con)
Leinster 23 (S Penny, T O’Brien try each; C Frawley 3 pins, 2 cons)
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/pro14/leinster-young-guns-come-up-short-as-sharks-hold-on-for-narrow-win-in-durban-41581081.html Leinster Young Guns fall short as the Sharks battle for a narrow win in Durban