The Sharks put on a display of intensity and determination to end Queensland’s season, defeating the hosts in last night’s qualifying final in Brisbane. The Durban-based Sharks will play the Cape Town-based Stormers next Saturday.
THE Sharks put on a display of intensity and determination to end Queensland’s season, defeating the hosts in last night’s qualifying final in Brisbane. The Durban-based Sharks will play the Cape Town-based Stormers next Saturday.
The other semi-final will feature two New Zealand sides – the Chiefs and the Crusaders.
Life without Wallabies five-eighth Quade Cooper was challenging enough for the Reds.
But watching his much-heralded replacement Ben Lucas limping off in the 20th minute ensured a mission improbable against a relentless Sharks at Suncorp Stadium.
In the end, the gutsy Sharks booked a semi-final spot in front of a shell-shocked Queensland crowd of 36,571.
However, the defending champions will always wonder what might have been.
The Queensland Rugby Union opted not to appeal Cooper’s one-match suspension during the week but their frustration over that call paled in comparison to the angst experienced when Lucas was helped off midway through the first half.
The Reds had full faith in Lucas, who inspired an upset win over the Chiefs playing at No.10 in Cooper’s absence earlier in the season – a victory that sparked their six-game winning run leading into the finals.
The Sharks jumped to a 10-0 lead after just 12 minutes thanks to an opening penalty by French veteran No.10 Frederic Michalak before quick hands sent classy winger JP Pietersen down the right sideline.
And it was 17-0 after 23 minutes when fill-in centre Paul Jordaan – a late replacement for ineligible Test centre Frans Steyn – crashed over.
A Harris penalty in the 30th minute finally put the Reds on the board before Michalak blew the deficit back out to 20-3 with another penalty kick.
Reds captain Will Genia combined brilliantly with No.8 Scott Higginbotham to score in the 38th minute. However, he went from hero to villain when five-eighth Charl McLeod intercepted a pass from the Reds halfback to run away with a 44th-minute try.
Reds openside flanker Liam Gill was controversially denied a 57th-minute try before the home side crashed over on full-time through Radike Samo.
SHARKS 30 (Paul Jordaan, Charl McLeod, JP Pietersen tries Frederic Michalak 3 cons 2 pens drop goal) bt QUEENSLAND REDS 17 (Will Genia, Radike Samo tries Genia, Michael Harris cons Harris pen) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Jonathan Kaplan. Crowd: 36,571.