Sharks thrash Blues as Waratahs down Brumbies in derby

The Sharks exposed the deficiencies in the Blues defence, thrashing the home side 63-40
AFP

Canberra (AFP) – Coastal Sharks overpowered the Auckland Blues 63-40 in a high-scoring Super Rugby win as the NSW Waratahs ground out an Australian derby victory over the ACT Brumbies on Saturday.

The Durban-based Sharks clicked into gear in a celebration for the du Preez family in a free-scoring win in Auckland.

The Waratahs, who lost Wallaby star Israel Folau with a hamstring injury in only the fourth minute, dug in for a 24-17 win over the Brumbies in Canberra.

It was the Waratahs’ first win in the Australian capital since 2015 as star Wallaby forward David Pocock played his 100th Super Rugby match and his first game this season after taking a sabbatical year off in 2017.

In Auckland, it was evident the Blues would be punished for their ill-discipline from the moment Robert du Preez landed his first penalty in the third minute at Eden Park.

From the first bullocking run by his younger brother Jean-Luc de Preez, a key figure in several tries, the Sharks exposed the deficiencies in the Blues defence.

Which was all good news for their father Robert de Preez, the Sharks coach, who has been under pressure with only one win from their first five matches and losses to the Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels in the past two weeks.

Both sides scored six tries with the 23-point winning margin the result of seven penalties and an extra conversion landed by Robert du Preez.

“We came into this game with out backs against the wall and we really wanted to go out there and enjoy the game,” said skipper Ruan Botha.

“It hasn’t been an easy start to our campaign but we’re trying to get back on track.”

Robert de Preez landed four penalties in the first half and also converted tries by his brother and Botha as the Sharks turned 26-7 ahead with fullback Michael Collins scoring for the Blues. 

The game swung sharply in the Blues’ favour for 10 minutes at the start of the second half when Sharks’ wing Sbu Nkosi was sin-binned for a head-high tackle. 

While the Blues held a one-man advantage, Akira Ioane, Patrick Tuipulotu and Stephen Perofeta all scored tries — Tuipulotu and Perofeta both from long-range. 

Perofeta converted them all for the Blues to be up 28-26, but when Nkosi returned to the field the Sharks moved up several gears to score 30 unanswered points.

The Blues rallied for two late tries before Curwin Bosch scored a final try for the Sharks more than three minutes into extra time.

– Vital win –

In Canberra, two tries to giant winger Taqele Naiyaravoro helped power the Waratahs to victory over the Brumbies.

But the vital win came at a cost, with Folau limping off with a hamstring injury and initial reports putting him out of action for up to four weeks. 

“He’s a huge weapon at all times and I’m hoping Izzy is not too bad for us and himself, he’s been playing some good rugby,” Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper said.

The Waratahs struggled for much of the first half but Naiyaravoro’s first try after the halftime siren was the turning point in the match, as he swatted away Wallaby regular Henry Speight and ran 50 metres to score and give NSW a 13-11 lead.

It also helped the Waratahs climb above the Queensland Reds into second place in the Australian conference on 14 points, six behind the Rebels.

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