The Sharks lost JP Pieterson in the warm up. A late change to any team is disruptive but the sharks seem to handle it with no problems. The expected fine weather has not eventuated and it looks like another wet game for the Reds.
The first try comes to the Reds off a 15 metre lineout. Horwill soared high for the ball and in the ruck slips it to James Hanson, who takes off for the line carrying two men over in the act of scoring. The sharks have made most of the play so far and the Reds have score off their very first opportunity.
The rain is coming down quite heavily now and the wind is clearly effecting play. Harris has a shot at goal from a scrum penalty but the wind is strong enough to push it under the cross bar. After a strong first 10 minutes from the Sharks the reds have evened up possession and are on the front foot.
A major blow for the Reds 22 minutes in as Harris limps off the field with a knee injury. Morahan moves to outside Centre and Tapaui moves to the more familiar inside centre position. After sustained pressure in the 22 the Reds score through Higginbotham. Great team work from the Reds, a dozen phases and every player handling in the lead up.
The Game loses it third player to injury as Sykes goes down with a knee injury. The big second rower is replaced by Jandre Mairius. The Reds are disrupting the Sharks lineout and the Reds back are finding space.
A poor clearance from Will Genia gifts the Sharks possession deep in reds territory and the replacement Marius crashes over for a good try. Jannie Du plessis goes off with an injury after 35 minutes. A bad blow for the prop in his first game back after injury. The Sharks look to have scored another try on the back of some great play and sustained pressure but the try is disallowed on a dangerous entry to a ruck from Willem Alberts.
Ioane is sin binned for a lifting tackle directly in front of the post and Patrick Lambe slots the penalty on the stroke of half time. I can’t say that I agree with the new lifting interpretations. Although the tackle was similar to others penalised recently Ioane lifted Coetzee barely 2 feet off the ground. Hardly dangerous.The Reds go into oranges with a 17 – 10 lead.
After a strong display in the middle of the half the Sharks dominated the last 7 minutes of the half and come out and score 3 points straight after the break to continue their point scoring spree. Poor ball security is costing the Reds dearly. They are trapped deep in their own half but have given up possession 3 time to the Sharks.
The Reds Now lose Ben Lucas to injury. The only replacement is another scrum half. Genia moves to one of the back positions and Nic Frisby takes over. Desperate measures now for the Reds. Faingaa Replaces Hanson and Ioane returns from the Sin bin giving the Reds some chance of surviving this onslaught .
After 10 minutes of sustained pressure Keegan Daniel crashes over from the back of a scrum. The Reds have no one to blame but themselves for losing the lead. They have given up possession too many times to expect anything else.
Frisby intercepts a short pass from the sharks and kicks ahead for Ioane who passes is back in the tackle for Frisby to score. The reds Score against the run of play to take the lead again 22 – 20.
From the kick off the Reds loses the ball again and Riaan Viljoen goes over to take the lead back for the Sharks.
The Reds badly disrupted back line appears to be 10. Genia, 12. Tapiau and 13. Turnstile Morahan. They are behind 27 -22 and with 10 minutes left only a miracle can save them now. Genia keeps forgetting he’s a 5/8 now and turns up at the back of rucks a couple of times.
The Miracle doesn’t come for the Reds this time. The Sharks deserving winners 27 -22 in an entertaining and fiercely fought match. The reds never recovered from the loss of both playmakers and did well to compete as well as they did. The worrying trend of losing possession in their own half will be worring Coach Ewen McKenzie, but if anyone can fix it Link can.