Coastal Sharks conquer Crusaders in historic victory
Kyle Cooper try clinches South African side’s ninth win in 12 matches and their first ever victory in Christchurch
Replacement Kyle Cooper scored a 75th-minute try to lift a Sharks team reduced to 14 men for 63 minutes and to 13 during the second half to a 30-25 win over the Crusaders in Super Rugby on Saturday.
Cooper’s try forced the fifth and final lead change of the second half, clinching the Shark’s ninth win in 12 matches and giving them their historic first win over the Crusaders in Christchurch.
It is also the first time any South African side have won in Christchurch since 2001.
Flanker Jean Deysel was shown a red card in the 17th minute for a vicious, off-the-ball stomp on the face of Crusaders backrower Jordan Taufua.
His loss seemed an insurmountable handicap to the Sharks but, instead, seemed to galvanise the Durban side, who extended their stay in first place and snapped the Crusaders’ winning streak at five games.
The Sharks were left even further undermanned in the 64th minute when number eight Willem Alberts was sin-binned for taking out a player off the ball. Though reduced to 13 men through a crucial passage of the match, the Sharks still managed to fight back to reclaim the lead.
Fly-half Colin Slade scored all of the Crusaders’ points - a try, the conversion and six penalties - to surpass 20 points for the second straight week. His sixth penalty gave the Crusaders their last lead, at 25-23, after 72 minutes.
The visitors then held out the frenetic attempts of the Crusaders to snatch the game in its final minutes.
Their close-knit defence, which had denied the Crusaders for most of the match, held strong under that late pressure and the Sharks prevailed in the 100th Super Rugby match for props Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis.
“I must say I’m really, really proud of the guys and especially for Jannie and Beast playing their 100th games,” Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis said.
“It’s very emotional for us. We’ve been here and come close but we’ve never won here so it’s a big thing for us.
“A red card so early in the game really brings the team that much closer to each other and everybody talked so much it made my job that much easier.”
In Brisbane, Jason Woodward – who slotted 15 points – kicked a last-minute penalty after Queensland replacement Ed O’Donoghue was sent off for eye gouging to give the Melbourne Rebels their first win over the Reds with a 30-27 victory.
In Bloemfontein, the Cheetahs secured their first Super Rugby victory over foreign opposition in 2014 when they beat the Brumbies 27-21, while the Stormers secured their fourth victory of the season when they beat Western Force 24-8 at Newlands in Cape Town.