x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Late intercept try cements Sharks' first win of season

Adrian Jacobs scores a late intercept try to help South Africa's Sharks to a 30-16 victory over the Otago Highlanders in Dunedin.

Adrian Jacobs scored a late intercept try to help South Africa's Sharks to a 30-16 victory over the Otago Highlanders in Dunedin yesterday for their first Super 14 victory of the season. The centre's intercept, when the Highlanders were attacking from inside their territory, came 90 seconds after the home side had a potential levelling try by their replacement winger Fetu'u Vainikolo ruled out by the television match official, Colin Hawke.

"I don't think any other victory I've had here in Dunedin means as much as this one does. It has been a long road for us," said the Sharks' captain, John Smit. "Our boys needed this win, but they have stuck together for a long time, now we need to capitalise on this." The Sharks, who had been tipped as potential semi-finalists before the competition began, had lost their previous five games. The Highlanders dominated, but were only able to convert their first-half pressure with two Israel Dagg penalties. Dagg also missed two other shots at goal. Ruan Pienaar slotted an early penalty for the Sharks while hooker Bismarck du Plessiss scored a try.

Pienaar converted to give his side a 10-6 half-time lead. After the break, Dagg added his third penalty before Pienaar replied twice to give the visitors a 16-9 lead that was stretched to 23-9 when Stefan Terblanche scored a 64th minute try and Pienaar converted. Otago winger Ben Smith immediately brought his side back into the match with a try that was converted by Dagg. Smith then put Vainikolo into space from a well worked backline move from an attacking scrum and while the replacement winger appeared to have scored a try, Hawke ruled he had been tackled into touch in goal by No 8 Ryan Kankowski.

If the try had been awarded and Dagg had made the difficult sideline conversion the score would have been locked at 23-23 with less than five minutes remaining, but Jacobs then put the game beyond doubt with his interception. Fly-half Colin Slade stepped into the boots of the All Blacks star Dan Carter and kicked 21 points as the Canterbury Crusaders beat South Africa's Lions 46-19. Slade started in the No 10 jersey with Carter on the bench and gave steady impetus to his team in a hard-fought match against the winless Lions.

Winger Sean Maitland scored two of five tries for the Crusaders, his second in the 72nd minute clinching a four-try bonus point. Slade, who moved to fullback when Carter took the field in the 57th minute, landed three conversions and five penalties from 10 attempts. The Lions lifted themselves after last week's 73-12 loss to the New South Wales Waratahs and pressed the seven-time champion Crusaders for most of the match. The lead changed hands three times before Canterbury took a tenuous 22-16 lead to half-time, and handling errors and other turnovers in the second half eventually cost the Lions the match.

New South Wales Waratahs scored the only points of the second half to beat the Western Force 14-10. Drew Mitchell scored the Waratahs' lone try while Daniel Halangahu kicked two penalties and Berrick Barnes one. Scott Staniforth scored the Force's only try, while James O'Connor had a conversion and penalty. The last-place Force picked up their first competition point this season for losing by fewer than seven points. They are a point behind South Africa's Lions, who are winless in six matches this season. .

In last night's late game the Western Stormers got the better of Central Cheetahs 21-8 in the all South African match as Joe Pietersen finished with 13 points. He scored a try and kicked two penalties and a conversion, with Jacque Fourie also getting a try. * With agencies