Center 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 and their first Super 14 victory this season.
Jacobs’ intercept, when the Highlanders were attacking from inside their territory, came 90 seconds after the home side had a potential leveling try by replacement winger Fetu’u Vainikolo ruled out by the television match official Colin Hawke.
The Sharks, who had been tipped as potential semi-finalists before the competition began, had lost their previous five games.
The Highlanders dominated territory and possession, 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 Plessis grounded the ball against the goalpost and was awarded the try by the referee after consultation with Hawke.
Pienaar converted to give his side a 10-6 halftime 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.
■CRUSADERS 46, LIONS 19
REUTERS, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Canterbury Crusaders winger Sean Maitland scored two tries and flyhalf Colin Slade added 21 points with the boot to help their side to a victory over the Lions in their Super 14 match in Christchurch yesterday.
The Crusaders moved to second in the table with the bonus-point victory, while the South African side recorded their sixth successive loss in this season’s competition.
Slade slotted four penalties in a frantic first half, while Maitland and openside flanker Jonathan Poff scored tries after superb interplay between the Crusaders’ backs and forwards.
Lions hooker Hannes Franklin rumbled over immediately after a restart from a Crusaders successful penalty, while flyhalf Burton Francis converted the try and added three penalties to keep the Lions within sight with the score 22-16 at halftime.
Neither side was able to settle in the first 10 minutes of the second half, with Colin Slade slotting a long-range penalty, before center Adam Whitelock capitalized on a Lions turnover inside their own 22 to score the Crusaders’ third try.
Lions fullback Earl Rose slotted a penalty before Maitland scored his second try of the match, which Slade converted in the 75th minute to stretch the lead to 20 points, before Willie Heinz crossed after the hooter had sounded and Slade converted.
■WARATAHS 14, FORCE 10
The New South Wales Waratahs moved into Super 14 playoff contention after they battled to a victory over the Western Force in a tense and tightly contested match in Perth yesterday.
The Waratahs, who had the majority of possession, made too many errors at crucial times, while the Force had problems giving away penalties when they were hot on the attack as both teams hammered away at each other throughout the match.