The Melbourne Rebels have fallen 28-14 to the Sharks in Durban, ending their South African tour without a win from their two matches to be 3-2 after their opening five matches of the 2019 Super Rugby season.
In slippery conditions, Sharks flyhalf Robert du Preez played a telling role in the home sides efforts, accruing eighteen points on the scoreboard and keeping the game beyond the grasp of the Melburnians.
Despite repelling back-to-back five-meter lineout mauls, the Rebels couldn’t hold out the Sharks for too long after being camped in their quarter for the opening eight minutes.
An attacking 5-meter scrum for the Sharks was distributed to rampaging inside centre Andre Esterhuizen who was brought down one meter from the line, only for number 8 Daniel du Preez to crash over the very next phase.
Shortly after an under-pressure Rebels scrum conceded a penalty and flyhalf Robert du Preez accepted the three points on offer to extend the lead to ten.
du Preez would turn villain moments later when he kicked out on the full and gifted the Rebels prime attacking position.
From a lineout play, the forwards released it to the backs where an audacious Quade Cooper cut out pass found the unmarked Tom English on the left wing for a try.
The Esterhuizen and Dan du Preez one-two punch would again hurt the Rebels, getting the home side strong front foot ball and into the Rebels 22. The momentum was eventually repelled through illegal offside play, and the Sharks accepted the three points on offer.
In warm conditions, the Rebels were demonstrating a willingness to offload amongst the forwards and when various tip passes found the Sharks on the back foot, the Rebels were able to strike. Quick hands from Cooper with the try line in sight placed Jack Maddocks into a hole and the newly appointed fullback crossed for his fifth try of the year.
The Rebels lead would not last to half time though, with a breakdown infringement in their own half coolly converted by Robert du Preez to see the Sharks up by two points at the break.
It would take twelve minutes of play in the second half before the scorers would be bothered.
The Sharks forwards attacked the Rebels try line with vengeance and with the Rebels defensive line contracted, scrum half Louis Schreuder floated one over the top to an unmarked Robert du Preez in the corner.
Soon after, the Rebels failed to clear from their own quarter courtesy of a dropped ball in their own in-goal, the Sharks accepted the generous field position and found Makazole Mapimpi from a scrum on the left edge. The speedster dived over from 5 meters out, giving the hosts a fourteen-point lead.
The greasy conditions were making it increasingly difficult to string phases together for either side and handling errors began to become glaring. It was one such turnover that was quickly distributed to Sharks wing Makazole Mapimpi who scooted fifty meters for a try.
Jubilation turned to heartbreak for the hosts, when the television match official found an earlier high tackle on Tom English, resulting in the try being disallowed and replacement Marius Louw being sent to the sin bin.
The Rebels looked to take advantage of the numerical advantage, but the conditions punished their expansive endeavours.
More handling errors were compounded by slowly set scrums and the Sharks were happy to see the clock wind down and the victory sealed.
Tries: Dan du Preez, Robert du Preez, Makazole Mapimpi Goals: Robert du Preez (2) Penalties: Robert du Preez (3)
Tries: English, Maddocks Goals: Cooper (2)