Pienaar boots Sharks to victory

Ruan Pienaar slotted a touchline conversion two minutes into injury time to steal a win and ensure the Sharks retained their unbeaten record as the beat the Crusaders 27-26 in a pulsating encounter Durban on Saturday.

With time officially up on the clock and the Crusaders leading 26-20, the Sharks took the ball through numerous phases deep inside their own territory – before utility forward AJ Venter put Adi Jacobs into space. He offloaded to Odwa Ndungane, who sprinted 45 metres to dive over in the corner. And young Pienaar then slotted the winner like a seasoned veteran.

Heartbreaking for the defending champion Crusaders, a major boost for the Sharks – who moved into second place on the standings, two points behind the table-topping Blues and with a game in hand.

The drama of it all in the Durban sauna!

Somehow the Sharks found the energy to run out of deep defence to turn defeat into victory, but what drama.

That last bit of play, two minutes into injury time, will go into Super 14 legend. Nobody who was in the 22 500 crowd at the ABSA Stadium and nobody watching will forget the end to what was really an error-riddled match. You would have to will yourself to forget it as gloom burst suddenly into hope and then glee.

What a finish!

The Crusaders were up 26-20 and must have thought the match was safe.

Afterwards Corey Flynn, their captain said: “We played well for 80 minutes. Pity the game lasted 82.”

With just over a minute to go, the Crusaders had a scrum in the Sharks 22 and were set to wear the game down but they lost the ball a little way forward. That became a scrum to the Sharks with just on a minute to play – a mess of a scrum as they tried to keep the ball. Again in the scramble the Crusaders lost the ball a little way forward. Again the Sharks had a scrum with 23 seconds left to play.

From the scrum replacement Keegan Daniel broke away and got just over the 22 when he was tackled. The Crusaders were penalised. AJ Venter asked if there was time for a line-out and the referee told him that time was up and the siren’s wail confirmed that.

The Sharks tapped and Venter plodded into the Crusaders. They tried to drive, but Deon Carstens lost the ball forward. The Crusaders snapped it up. Kick it out and the game was won but they went for another try. It would have gained them nothing but it would have deprived the Sharks of a bonus point.

Things looked promising for the Crusaders as they attacked on the left, and advantage was over. Caleb Ralph was tackled near the touch-line on his left and lost the ball in a turn-over, a fatal flaw.

The Sharks went left and right and left. They bumbled passes, but backwards and then Carstens charged manfully, but still inside their 22. Rory Kockott picked up and forged ahead. AJ Venter got the ball and passed to Adrian Jacobs and suddenly the game burst apart as he raced over his 10-metre line, over the half-way line with just Scott Hamilton ahead of him and Odwa Ndungane on his left. He gave to Ndungane as the Crusaders’ 10-metre line approached. The tall wing, dreadlocks flying, head up, knees pumping, raced on a diagonal for the corner as Scott Hamilton strained every sinew to get to him. The three converged – Ndungane, Hamilton, corner post. As Hamilton dived, Ndungane dived at the corner.

Through all of this the crowd roared. Now in silent hope they gazed at the big screen as the TMO looked at the replay. With each replay the crowd roared in their tension.

“Stuart, can you hear me?” the TMO said to the referee. “You may award the try.”

The referee confirmed it, blew his whistle, raised his arm and awarded the try. 26-25 to the Crusaders with the kick to come.

Ruan Pienaar took the kick in the place of Percy Montgomery who had gone off with a muscle injury. He kicked from the touch-line, a soaring kick, and the voices raised in hope and then ro

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CAPTCHA *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close