Sharks throw away big lead to draw with Munster
22 April 2023 – 21:16
The Sharks committed second half hara-kiri in this United Rugby Championship (URC) match as they threw away a big lead and the opportunity to play in next season’s Champions Cup.
Munster, resolute and resilient staged a remarkable comeback to draw the match 22-all at Kings Park.
The results condemned the Sharks to an away quarterfinal to league leaders Leinster, while for their toil Munster earned a short trip to Scotland where they will face Glasgow Warriors.
The visitors didn’t so much as catch a second wind as they were in the throes of a second coming when they turned the match on its head in the second half after being 22-3 down shortly after the break.
Jean Klein, Malakai Fekitoa, Conor Murray and captain Peter O’Mahony were instrumental in getting their team back into the contest.
In mitigation, the Sharks lost Siya Kolisi and Curwin Bosch in the first half.
Still, the hosts had a lot going for them. On the back of a dominant scrum the Sharks appeared to squeeze the life out of Munster who, for most of the first 50 minutes, failed to invoke the spirit that helped carry them to victory a week earlier against the Stormers.
By the break the Sharks played themselves into a position of strength going 19-3 up.
Munster’s cause was further undermined by poor discipline. As the game wore on they drew the Sharks into closer combat, at times through nefarious means.
Captain O’Mahony showed a remarkable lack of composure as he escalated a scuffle that did not require his heavy-handed attention.
It served its purpose though as the Sharks gradually lost their composure, shape and the big moments.
As Kolisi stayed down early on Kings Park fell silent as it held its collective breath.
There would have been angst too in Cape Town where the Bok management resides, and the Racing half of Paris where Kolisi heads next season.
The Bok captain was halfway to being mummified by the time the medics stopped strapping his right leg before Kolisi was pressed back into action.
His time on the field however was short-lived as he was withdrawn after Bongi Mbonambi scored the game’s first try.
That try had its roots in the move that led to Kolisi’s injury as the Sharks first had the benefit of an attacking scrum before they refocused their energy to a 5m line-out.
Mbonambi peeled off the back of the ensuing maul and used all his strength as he surged for the line.
The match appeared to run the risk of degenerating into a scrappy affair in the second half as both sides paid more attention to each other than the ball.
It was Munster however who altered the course of the clash.
Earlier in the day the Lions beat Zebre 50-35 to seal ninth spot on the log.
Sharks (22) — Tries: Bongi Mbonambi, Werner Kok, Sikhumbuzo Notshe. Conversion: Curwin Bosch, Boeta Chamberlain. Penalty: Chamberlain.
Munster (22) — A penalty try, Calvin Nash, Conor Murray. Conversion: Ben Healey. Penalty: Jack Crowley.
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