x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Sharks ambush Williams

The Natal Sharks spoil Ali Williams' homecoming by defeating the Auckland Blues for the fifth match in succession.

The Natal Sharks spoiled Ali Williams' homecoming by defeating the Auckland Blues for the fifth match in succession. Williams, the All Black forward, was making his first start for the Blues after returning from the Canterbury Crusaders but failed to prevent his side from going down to a 35-31 defeat to the Sharks who are something of a nemesis for the three-times winners.

"I was quite nervous to be honest just being out there in front of the home crowd, the home people and where I've grown up," said Williams, who spent five years with the Blues before joining the Crusaders in 2008. "But it was good, unfortunately we didn't get the result but there's a lot of promising things that came out of that game and a lot of promising individuals that have that talent - we just need more time in the saddle and we'll get better, it's a long competition." The Blues did have the consolation of picking up a losing bonus point but the Sharks collected five themselves thanks to tries from in-form winger JP Pietersen, Jacques Botes, Steven Sykes and John Smith.

Isaia Toeava, Jimmy Gopperth and Joe Rokocoko scored the Blues' tries. Two tries from Hosea Gear and one apiece from Tamati Ellison and John Schwalger were enough to see the Wellington Hurricanes overcome the Bloemfontein Cheetahs in New Plymouth. Sarel Pretorius and Wayne van Heerden scored for the Cheetahs and Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper will be concerned about the malfunctioning line-out - the Cheetahs won 11 line-outs against the throw, including eight in the first-half alone.

The Otago Highlanders ground out an uninspiring 6-0 victory over the Crusaders in Dunedin. It was the lowest number of points scored in a Super rugby match, surpassing the 6-3 win by the Brumbies against the Reds in Feb 2007, and also the first time the Crusaders had been kept scoreless. The loss was the defending champions' third successive defeat and also their second straight loss to their South Island neighbours who prevailed in the final match of the regular season last year.

* With agencies