A superb solo try by replacement centre Heimar Williams made certain of a 25-21 victory for the Sharks in a scrappy SuperRugby match against the Rebels at Kings Park in Durban last night.
Williams, who cut inside and then dashed over from 25 metres out for a brilliant try, gave the Sharks a 22-7 lead after 52 minutes.
But despite the Rebels playing with 14 men for the entire second half after prop Laurie Weeks was red-carded for repeatedly punching Jannie du Plessis, who was yellow-carded for starting the fracas with a slap to the back of the head, the visitors fought back manfully and threatened to steal the spoils.
Inspired by man of the match Scott Higginbotham, their eighthman and captain, the Rebels scored twice in the last quarter through Higginbotham and replacement wing Bryce Hegarty.
The Sharks, who dominated territory, were hesitant on attack and both sides struggled to gain momentum due to dreadful handling.
Left wing S’Bura Sithole was the Sharks’ best player and his 34th-minute try, muscling his way through several defenders, ensured that they had a 10-0 lead, but that was cut to 7-10 at the break by Higginbotham’s first try.
Four minutes into the second half, the Rebels were on attack but replacement scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker threw a no-look pass that was snaffled by fullback Lwazi Mvovo, who then sprinted 80 metres for a thrilling intercept try.
The Sharks led 15-7 but they created precious little else in terms of try-scoring chances, their attack being too lateral – when they managed to hang on to the ball – and the several passengers in their pack ensuring that front-foot ball was hard to come by.
They were grateful for Williams finally producing some direct running for the try that made the task just too hard for the Rebels.
Sharks – Tries: S’Bura Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo, Heimar Williams. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2). Penalties: Cronje (2).
Rebels – Tries: Scott Higginbotham (2), Bryce Hegarty. Conversions: Jack Debreczeni (3).