Table-topping Sharks became the first South African side to record an away win in this year’s Super Rugby, defeating Rebels in a tight match at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.
There were just two tries in the game, Sharks crossing first through JP Pietersen in the 64th minute before Pat Leafa hit back with a simple finish in the 71st minute.
The rest of the scoring was done by boot, Frans Steyn delivering a 22-16 victory for the visitors with five penalties and a conversion and Jason Woodward contributing 11 points in a losing cause.
Sharks almost touched down in the third minute when Lwazi Mvovo’s punt was palmed into touch by Bryce Hegarty, who risked a penalty try but got away with it.
Despite a lively start neither side scored until the 20th minute, when Woodward and Steyn exchanged penalties within moments of each other.
Both kickers were successful with their second attempts too, Sharks taking the lead from a botched scrum and Rebels levelling up from an offside verdict.
The hosts lost their discipline in the final 10 minutes of the first half, three successive errors allowing Steyn to make it five successful kicks from five and take his side in 15-6 ahead.
Sharks came out after the break eager to add a try but were held off well by Rebels, who then chipped three points off the deficit when Woodward cashed in on Paul Jordaan’s offside.
The next score was crucial and it went to the away league leaders, Steyn breaking from deep in his own half before Mvovo evaded three challenges and played in Pietersen to cross.
Steyn slotted the conversion to make it 22-9.
Rebels got themselves back into it when Hegarty’s smart tap-penalty handed Leafa a regulation try in the corner and Woodward nailed a tough conversion.
The Australian outfit pushed hard for a second try in the closing stages but could not breach the Sharks defence.
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