The Sharks’ reserve depth showed that they do not like water and sank without a trace, a naïve and lacklustre effort in the rain seeing them being hammered 35-0 by Cardiff in their United Rugby Championship match at Kings Park on Sunday night.
The Sharks had already made a sloppy start to the match as they conceded a breakdown penalty soon after the kickoff, slotted by flyhalf Jarrod Evans, when heavy rain arrived at the stadium and the home side’s hopes were seemingly washed away from that point.
Even though Cardiff suffered a yellow card to captain and flank Josh Turnbull for head contact with fullback Anthony Volmink – who must surely have suffered a concussion given what an absolute shocker he had thereafter – the Sharks could make no headway as they forced passes in the wet, giving away possession, and also tried to run the ball out of their own territory.
Cardiff’s other flank, Thomas Young, had a rampaging game and he earned the penalty try that gave the Welshmen a 13-0 lead after 26 minutes. Picking up a ball spilt at a ruck, he broke clear and kicked ahead, but wing Marnus Potgieter was winning the race to the ball in the in-goal area. But Potgieter deliberately slapped the ball over the dead-ball line, instead of trying to ground it, the referee awarding a penalty try and also issuing a yellow card.
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Two glaring errors by Volmink in his own 22 then gifted Evans with his third penalty and Young with his second try, on the halftime whistle, as the fullback simply dropped the ball five metres from his own line.
In conditions that were tailor-made for the visitors from a UK city that is often wet, Cardiff stretched their halftime lead from 23-0 to 35-0 up with two more tries in the third quarter. Young scored from a maul as the Sharks conceded back-to-back penalties, and another rampaging run by the son of former Wales prop Dai Young provided front-foot ball deep in the 22, Evans producing a lovely delayed pass that sent fullback Ben Thomas over for the try.
The Sharks did rouse themselves a bit at the tail-end of the game, but they failed to break their duck due to their own inaccuracies, especially at the breakdown, or a TMO who definitely seemed to be looking for reasons to penalise them. They did have a try disallowed due to an intervention by TMO Eoghan Cross after the conversion had already been taken, and he also interrupted other promising Sharks positions.
Cardiff – Tries: Penalty try, Thomas Young (2), Ben Thomas. Conversions: Jarrod Evans (2). Penalties: Evans (3).
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