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Sharks shock Crusaders in Super Rugby

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Update: 10:58PM THE 14-man Sharks toppled the Crusaders 30-25 in a monumental performance to remain at the top of the Super Rugby standings.

Playing with a man down for 64 minutes after flanker Jean Deysel was sent off for stomping, the Durban-based Sharks somehow concocted their first win in Christchurch and ended a remarkable record for the hosts in the process.

The Crusaders had won their 50 previous home games against South African and Australian opponents but a blunt, error-prone display wasn't enough to quell the tenacious visitors.

Scoring three tries to one, the Sharks' ninth win from 12 games pushes them five points clear of the second-placed Chiefs while the Crusaders' winning streak of five games is halted and may see them fall out of the top-six by the end of round 14.

Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis admits the early departure of Deysel ultimately worked in their favour.

"A red card that early in the game just brings the team so much closer together. Everybody talked so much, it made my job so much easier," he said.

Deysel was dismissed for a stomp to the face of opposite Jordan Taufua, who was holding onto his leg off the ball.

The score at that stage was 7-7 after Crusaders five-eighth Colin Slade converted his own try to cancel out the early score by Sharks centre Sibusiso Sithole, set up by a sizzling Francois Steyn break.

Slade scored all the Crusaders' points, the rest coming through six penalties at regular intervals as the Sharks committed indiscretions in an attempt to slow down the pace of the game.

Trailing 13-10 at halftime, the Sharks went ahead through a try to halfback Cobus Reinach, who towed a loose ball 50m.

Their hopes appeared dashed when reduced to 13 players late in the game after No.8 Willem Alberts was shown a yellow card for foul play.

Alberts returned with his team trailing by two points and just five minutes remaining before playing his part as a driving maul set up the decisive try for reserve prop Lourens Adriaanse.

It was the first win by any South African team in Christchurch since 2001.

A Crusaders side still missing concussed captain Kieran Read and without All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg this week because of niggles lacked a cutting edge.

Skipper Ryan Crotty says better will be needed when they play the Highlanders in Dunedin next week, lamenting a lacklustre display.

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