Queensland Reds have fallen to a narrow 21-14 loss to the South African Sharks in a hard fought Asteron Life Super Rugby match played at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane tonight.
After last week’s tryfest against the Rebels the Reds were restricted to just two tries to blockbusting centre Samu Kerevi and winger Chris Kuridrani while the Sharks two tries were scored by scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer.
Queensland dominated possession and territory throughout the 80 minutes but handling errors and turnovers let the home team down.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said he was disappointed the team couldn’t build on the momentum from last week’s win over the Rebels.
“We are very disappointed. I feel that’s a game we lost, a game we realistically should have won given the amount of possession and some of the opportunities we created,” he said.
“We got sucked into playing their game. I’m disappointed we allowed the game to be slowed down and played the way they wanted. I give them a lot of credit for how disciplined they were in the way they wanted to play.
“A week after controlling the contact area so well, tonight we stood back and watched our ball carrier carry in isolation far too much. That area alone was a massive contributor to the 13 turnovers in the first half.
“Our kicking was another area that let us down. We got into a cycle where they pinned us in a corner and we couldn’t really escape it.”
The Sharks took the lead in the sixth minute when Francois Steyn landed a penalty goal after the Reds were caught offside.
The Reds almost hit back straight away after O’Connor put Kuridrani down the left touchline but the young winger just put his foot in to touch before grounding the ball.
Queensland continued to keep the ball in hand and run at the Sharks with Liam Gill, O’Connor and Kerevi all prominent. But the final pass failed to stick on a number of occasions when a try looked on the cards.
But against the run of play the Reds went further behind on 17 minutes when Ungerer sprinted away from the scrum base to score out wide. Steyn’s conversion from the corner made it 10-0.
The Reds came charging back on 24 minutes with a superb team try.
It started from a lineout just metres from the Reds line. Will Genia sent a long ball to Kerevi who broke the defensive line on his own 22, with a strong charge. On the halfway line he found Jake Schatz in support who in turn found Gill.
Gill flicked the ball behind him but it came off defender JP Pietersen and bounced up again into the hands of Kerevi who passed to a charging Adam Thomson who took the ball on before feeding Genia again.
The cover defence reached Genia 10 metres out but Thomson was there to take the return pass before finding Kuridrani out wide to dive over. O’Connor converted from the left touchline to make it 10-7.
A long range penalty goal from Steyn made it 13-7 on 28 minutes, before a scrum penalty 10 minutes later saw Steyn increase the lead to 16-7 before the break.
The Reds were dominant in the early stages of the second half but desperate defence from the Sharks held them at bay till the 50th minute, when after repeated attacks a short ball from Genia finally saw Kerevi burst over the line from close range. O’Connor’s conversion made it 16-14.
The Sharks extended their lead with 10 minutes left, when a miss-hit clearing kick from O’Connor went straight into the arms of Ungerer who flopped over the line for his second try. The conversion was missed by Cronje but the Sharks led 21-14.
With four minutes remaining Kerevi once again made yards but his chip over the top was marked by the Sharks and the visitors held on desperately over the final minutes.
The Reds now travel to Perth where they take on the Western Force in an all-Australian derby next Saturday night.
ASTERON LIFE SUPER RUGBY
ST.GEORGE QUEENSLAND REDS 14 (Chris Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi tries; James O’Connor 2 conversions) lost to SHARKS 21 (Stefan Ungerer 2 tries; Francois Steyn conversion, 3 penalty goals) at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. (HALF TIME: Reds 7 Sharks 16) (Referee: Angus Gardner [AUS])