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- 17th May 2014
- KO 08:35
- Ground: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Super Rugby: 14-man Sharks come from behind to beat Crusaders
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Kyle Cooper scored a late try as the table-topping Sharks, at one stage reduced to 13 men, won their first game against the Crusaders in New Zealand with a 30-25 triumph in Christchurch on Saturday.
The South African side played more than 60 minutes of the game with 14 men after flanker Jean Deysel was sent off in the 16th minute for stamping on the face of loose forward Jordan Taufua, while Willem Alberts was sin-binned in the 64th for a professional foul.
The Crusaders started the match as the form team in Super Rugby as they were on a five-match winning streak and could have gone to the top of the standings with a bonus-point victory.
Centre Sibusiso Sithole and scrum-half Cobus Reinach also scored tries for the visitors with Frans Styen adding two conversions and two penalties before replacement Tim Swiel added a penalty and converted Cooper's try.
Colin Slade scored all the Crusaders points with a converted try and six penalties for the home side, who struggled to breach a strong Sharks defensive effort and made too many mistakes on the attack.
The victory almost certainly wraps up the South African Conference as the Sharks now lead the Bulls by 12 points.
Jake White's Sharks broke the deadlock on eight minutes after stealing a Crusaders line-out. With the hosts fully expecting the Sharks to spin the ball wide, Steyn slipped through a gaping hole to set up Sithole.
The league leaders then made a mistake four minutes later which allowed the Crusaders to seize on a loose ball, which was quickly switched to fly-half Slade, who shrugged off three defenders to force his way over the line before converting his own score.
With the scores level, referee Rohan Hoffman spotted foul play at the ruck and consultation with the TMO revealed Deysel had stamped on the face of Taufua, leaving no option but for the Sharks flanker to be sent off.
Slade capitalised on the Sharks indiscipline to add two penalties as the Crusaders took the lead, before Steyn struck a three-pointer of his own to reduce the Sharks' deficit to three at the break.
Despite starting the second period a man short, the Sharks made a perfect start as Reinach nudged forward Willi Heinz's pass before chasing the ball and touching down their second try.
Slade brought the Crusaders within a point from the kicking tee, only for Steyn to re-establish their four-point lead.
A fourth successful strike from the boot of Slade closed the gap once more and when Alberts was sent to the sin bin with 16 minutes to play, the 26-year-old fired the Crusaders into the lead.
Despite holding a two-man personnel advantage, the Crusaders were unable to make it count as they were penalised for a high tackle, allowing Swiel to slot the Sharks into the lead.
Slade kicked the Crusaders back in front, but their lead was short-lived as replacement hooker Cooper crashed over the line two minutes later to score the decisive try, which Swiel duly converted.Super 15. Click here to bet.