Waratahs 28 – Shorks 13
Someone took the Waratahs of 2008, condensed them all down, wrung out the pure essence, poured it into a bottle, and then served it up to the Sharks at the SFS last night. ‘Eau de Tah ‘08’ was just too powerful for the men from Durban, and they literally fell apart in its presence.
At the core of Eau de Tah ’08 is the most offensive defence in the Southern Hemisphere. Common wisdom is that it’s a lot easier to attack than defend in rugby, but under Les Kiss (great name), the Tahs have turned this on its head. I reckon they’d be happy to throw the ball to the oppo at the kick off and say “run at us” for the first 20 minutes of any game. This is effectively what happened, and after 20 minutes it was still 3 all.
If you were an opposition coach you might pick the newest member of the Tahs, 19 year old Rob Horne, as the weak link in this meat grinding defence, but you’d be wrong. Having been wrongly penalised for putting Frans Steyn on his arse already, Horney came in on his opposite man following one of the many Sharks line-outs that Tahs stole or in this case spoiled, and jarred the ball loose with a bone shaker. The now grown up LT scooped the ball and was gone. 10-3
Four minutes later on the half hour mark, this same rookie got on the end of a beautiful pill from Sam Norton-Knight – who is back on form – to pick up a try himself. Tahu’s Gluteus might be activated, but Rob Horne has rightly cemented the 13 Jersey.
This try was at the end of a move started by magic short pass from Beale to Mumm, who gave substance to the rumour that he is the second fastest guy in the Tahs. 15-3
The Sharks may well have gone into the break thinking Beale’s inability to place kick still had them in the game, but 5 minutes after resuming, the match was over.
First, Elsom continued to apply pressure to his contractual negotiations in the best possible way by making a trademark bust through the middle, followed up 2 phases later by a perfect draw and pass to put Beale over in the corner. 20-6 Elsom is part of a Tahs backrow that would surely walk into most international teams. They once again powered the Waratah engine to this win.
Then “my mate” Luke Burgess must surely have sealed his Wallaby spot by getting between Kankowski and Kocket at the base of a scrum in the Sharks ‘22 to intercept and score. 25-6. Lights out.
At this point, the Sharks finally did themselves a favour and took off Epi Tione, the Tongan idiot who had just returned from a 6-week ban. This guy has seriously fµcked karma. He managed to attract every sh1thouse pass or kick going and those that weren’t crap he stuffed himself in an effort to make amends. By the time he left the field in the 48th minute, he personally had committed 5 handling errors, while keeping the stalwart AJ Venter out of the squad. Crazy.
For about 20 minutes in the middle of the second half the Tahs took the lid off the pressure cooker and let the now fish-caked Sharks run at them, deciding to see how many tackles they could pull off on their own 5 metre line. In one, the cheeky number 9 Kocket was falling over the line to score when Tuqiri bent the kid over backwards, stuffing the half-backs head between his own ankles.
Eventually the Sharks did burrow over to get the score to 25-13, but a 78th minute drop-goal from Beale iced the cake at 28-13. Had Beale got half the 12 points he missed from the spot, this would have looked the thrashing it was.
So while it wasn’t absolutely perfect, the Tahs have done everything asked of them and in only their 4th dry game out of 14, shown that they know their way to the try-line, even if Beale’s kicks don’t know their way through the posts. At present this one weakness, and the mind-fµck that travelling to Christchurch entails are the only reasons why they shouldn’t give McKenzie the leaving present he’s after.