Rugby Union


Injury-hit Reds blow big lead over Sharks

Defending Super Rugby champions Queensland suffered key injuries and their first loss of the season as the Sharks hit back to win 27-22 in Durban.


Queensland led 17-0 after 26 minutes but ended up using halfback Will Genia at five-eighth and third-string goalkicker after injuries forced off inside centre Mike Harris in the first half and five-eighth Ben Lucas in the second.

The Reds lost winger Digby Ioane for the first ten minutes of the second half, sin-binned for a lifting tackle on flanker Marcell Coetzee just before the break. He has been cited to appear before SANZAR judicial officer Mike Heron as the offence was deemed by the citing commissioner to meet the threshold for a red card for foul play.

Ioane and fullback Rod Davies looked dangerous every time they touched the ball in wet and windy conditions.

The Reds, top of the Australian Conference after earning a bonus point, won 58 per cent of possession and produced some sparkling rugby in the first half, showing a willingness to run the ball.


Hooker James Hanson crashed over the line after bursting out of a maul in the 10th minute and impressive flanker Scott Higginbotham powered over from close range after good leadup work.

Lucas, who took over the goalkicking duties when Harris departed in the 23rd minute, stretched the lead to 17 points with a penalty.

Inspired by forwards Bismarck du Plessis and Keegan Daniel and halfback Charl McLeod, the Sharks started their comeback with a 34th minute try to replacement forward Jandre Marais.

The Sharks were over again through winger Lwazi Mvovo but the try was scrubbed for dangerous play in the leadup from flanker Willem Alberts.

Five-eighth Patrick Lambie reduced the deficit to seven by kicking the penalty awarded for Ioane's indiscretion and added another penalty within two minutes of the restart.

Queensland were fortunate not to concede two tries while Ioane was off the field, as the Sharks got the upper hand in the forward exchanges.

Coetzee knocked on over the line and Mvovo couldn't reel in a pass with the line open.

The Sharks hit the front in the 54th minute when captain and No.8 Daniel burst from the back of a five-metre scrum and fended off Reds openside flanker Beau Robinson for a try converted by Lambie.

Debutant Nick Frisby nudged Queensland ahead when he toed ahead a loose ball which was picked up by Ioane, who popped up a pass for the replacement back to cross the line.

The Reds' lead lasted just two minutes as they quickly turned the ball over and Sharks fullback Riaan Viljoen capitalised to score his team's third try.

Queensland exerted some late pressure, but couldn't score again, Genia missing a penalty in the 68th minute.

SHARKS 27 (Keegan Daniel, Jan Andre Marais, Riaan Viljoen tries Patrick Lambie 3 cons 2 pens) bt QUEENSLAND REDS 22 (Nick Frisby, James Hanson, Scott Higginbotham tries Michael Harris, Ben Lucas cons Lucas pen) at ABSA Stadium. Referee: Jonathan Kaplan.