Hurricanes drop season-opener to Sharks

By Daniel Richardson

TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes looks to tackle Ryan Kankowski of the Sharks. Photo / Getty
TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes looks to tackle Ryan Kankowski of the Sharks. Photo / Getty

Sharks 27 Hurricanes 9
It's not often the Hurricanes are kept try-less.

For all their defensive inconsistencies, you can usually rely on the Hurricanes scoring at least a couple of five-pointers but they were unable to break through a resolute Sharks outfit as they went down 27-9 in their Super Rugby season-opener in Durban this morning.

Basic errors and a staunch Sharks defence proved too much for the Hurricanes as they failed to fire in a game where they were without loose forwards Victor Vito and Brad Shields due to injury.

The Hurricanes found themselves under serious pressure during the opening 20 minutes as a rampant home side were dominant at scrum-time.

But despite a converted try to Willem Alberts during the opening quarter and a penalty to Patrick Lambie, the Sharks weren't able to put as many points on the board as they would have liked.

The Sharks enjoyed 70 per cent of the ball during the first 24 minutes but the Hurricanes were able to soak up nearly everything the Jake White-coached side threw at them.

The visitors then inched their way back in to the contest as they made a rare foray in to Sharks territory and earned a penalty after some good work at the breakdown from openside flanker Jack Lam.

First-five Beauden Barrett then sunk his first penalty of the season as the Hurricanes got on the board and fullback Marty Banks then added another three points with a long-range penalty from inside his own half.

Considering their lack of precision during the early stages, the Hurricanes were lucky to go in to the break only down 10-6 but they had scrambled well on defence.

Lambie added another penalty goal early in the second spell as the Sharks continued to prove a tough commodity to break down defensively.

But the Hurricanes remained in touch via a Barrett goal in the 52nd minute as the humid conditions looked to be sapping the energy from both sides.

As Mark Hammett's Hurricanes started to impose themselves on the game, Lambie again kept them at arm's length with another three points as the contest went to the final quarter with the Sharks holding a 16-9 advantage.

Banks, who had enjoyed a strong debut for the Hurricanes, then threw a pass that was intercepted by Sharks wing Lwazi Mvovo as the men from Durban continued to edge further away.

As the game wore on, the Hurricanes finally began to gain parity at scrum-time but they struggled to maintain possession.

Hurricanes flanker Adam Hill, who was curiously selected on the bench ahead of Ardie Savea, was then sent to the sin bin in the 72nd minute for a dangerous tackle on Mvovo.

Playing a man down was never going to be easy but TJ Perenara continued to push the tempo for the Hurricanes as he had done all game.

Despite a few loose passes in the first spell the exciting halfback was one of the Hurricanes best, while Lam was immense at openside flanker.

With only a few minutes left, Lambie continued to chip away at the lead for the Sharks as a couple of late penalties completely settled the argument.

The Hurricanes will now turn their attention to meeting the Stormers in Cape Town next weekend.

Sharks 27 (Willem Alberts, Lwazi Mvovo tries; Patrick Lambie 5 pen, con) Hurricanes 9 (Beauden Barrett 2 pen, Marty Banks pen) Halftime: 10-6

- APNZ

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