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Ken Borland


1st half ranks among the Sharks’ best overseas, but 2nd half messy

Posted on November 16, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks produced a first 40 minutes that must rank amongst their best overseas in the United Rugby Championship, but then a messy second half left them with a most uncomfortable finish to the game as they held on for a 42-37 win against Zebre in Parma.

Having led 28-3 as the first half came to a close, the Sharks scraped home in the end, but they were lucky because Zebre had a long-range 77th-minute try, that could have given them a 41-39 lead, disallowed because Werner Kok had been taken out while chasing a kick. Boeta Chamberlain instead kicked a penalty to give the visitors a crucial 42-34 lead.

“Obviously we’re very happy with the win, we did really well to get five points away from home in our first outing,” Sharks coach Sean Everitt said. “The first 40 was really pleasing. We’ll take a lot of positives out of that, we played some fantastic rugby.

“We knew what happened to Leinster in the second half last week [Zebre fought back from 28-10 at halftime to only lose 33-29], but we didn’t learn the lesson.

“We went off plan in terms of our execution, our kicking game and our defence, and we conceded seven penalties in the second half, which is unacceptable.

“But those things are all fixable and we are happy to get off to a winning start. But we know there’s lots to work on,” Everitt said.

Better game-management will be one of the takeaways from the game as Zebre were able to recover from what seemed a lost cause in the first half and completely switch the momentum of the match. Everitt will want to know why his team allowed themselves to be so thoroughly put on the back foot. Zebre gained plenty of go-forward from their maul, and the Sharks were also vulnerable out wide. They also lost crucial possession from the restarts, allowing Zebre to level out the one-sided territory (64%) and possession (65%) stats from the first half.

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