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Super Rugby: Sharks remain top after 27-9 win over Hurricanes
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The Sharks retained their place at the Super Rugby summit with a 27-9 victory over the Hurricanes in Durban, but they were made to work for their rewards.
Jake White's Sharks outscored the Hurricanes but despite enjoying a home advantage they were unable to pull away against a side playing their first match of the season.
It remained a nail-biting contest until the final quarter when Sharks winger Lwazi Mvovo picked up an intercept try from a Hurricanes pass.
Despite a dominating start, the Sharks allowed the Hurricanes into the match and left it too close for comfort, that was, until the closing stages.
Springbok fly-half Patrick Lambie contributed 17 points through his placekicking with five penalty goals and a conversion.
The home side had a myriad of chances in the first half as they took control of set pieces, with their scrum in particular placing the pressure on the tourists.
Lambie nudged the hosts in front when he bisected the uprights with his first penalty conversion of the evening.
Shortly after the restart the Sharks had an opportunity to score when they won a scrum penalty which resulted in a Ryan Kankowski quick tap.
The ball eventually ended in the hands of full back SP Marais, who knocked the ball on as he went over the line with two Hurricanes players applying pressure.
The hosts camped out in the Hurricanes' 22 for close to 10 minutes in which they again fumbled two opportunities to put the pressure into points.
White's men eventually found the breakthrough in the 19th minute when flanker Willem Alberts scored from a driving maul that started from a lineout 10 metres from the line.
Lambie added the two points to extend his side's lead to 10 points.
The Sharks continued to dominate for the rest of the half as they enjoyed majority possession and territory.
However, the coastal side could not capitalise on the advantage and with six minutes left on the clock the Hurricanes got onto the score sheet courtesy of a Beauden Barrett penalty, before Marty Banks added another three shortly before the break.
Lambie succeeded with a penalty three minutes after the break as the game briefly turned into a battle of the boot.
Barrett returned their deficit to four points in the 52nd minute before Lambie replied with a penalty of his own six minutes later.
After persistently pressing, the Sharks finally found a way through the Hurricanes' defensive line when wing Mvovo intercepted the ball on the halfway line before sprinting 40 metres over the line, with Lambie converting.
With momentum tipped in favour of the Sharks, Lambie added two consecutive penalties at the death to put the seal on a 27-9 victory.Super 15. Click here to bet.
|Saturday 2nd August|
|Waratahs 33 - 32 Crusaders|
|Saturday 26th July|
|Waratahs 26 - 8 Brumbies|
|Crusaders 38 - 6 Sharks|
|Saturday 19th July|
|Sharks 31 - 27 Highlanders|
|Brumbies 32 - 30 Chiefs|
|Saturday 12th July|
|Stormers 10 - 34 Sharks|
|Lions 60 - 25 Cheetahs|
|Reds 3 - 34 Waratahs|
|Crusaders 34 - 8 Highlanders|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com