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Sharks hold on for Rebels win

The Sharks secured their fourth straight Super Rugby win against the Melbourne Rebels, but there were nervy moments despite Laurie Weeks' sending off.

The Australian prop was given a red card for a first-half altercation with opposite number Jannie du Plessis, responding to a slap with a string of punches.

It was a numerical advantage the Sharks capitalised on in Durban, although the 25-21 win at Growthpoint Kings Park was far from convincing.

S'bura Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo and Heimar Williams crossed the line for the hosts, while the Rebels' impressive captain Scott Higginbotham crossed twice before Bryce Hegarty scored the try of the game late on.

The match got off to a lowscoring start, with the first points of the evening arriving after 17 minutes when Lionel Cronje scored a penalty.

Melbourne were holding their own but their battle became an uphill one when Weeks was sent off for repeatedly punching his opposing number.

Du Plessis started matters by slapping Weeks and picked up a yellow card, but the response brought a red for the Rebels tight-head prop .

The hosts took advantage soon after as Sithole, one of the most impressive players of the first half, carried with purpose and scored the first try.

Cronje converted from a simple position but the Rebels hit back before half-time.

Just minutes after seeing a try ruled out by the television match official, captain Higginbotham capitalised on a mistackle and crossed the line, with Jack Debreczeni converting to bring the score within three.

The Sharks soon extended their lead again, though, as Mvovo intercepted and darted forwards with pace, going over in the corner just four minutes after the restart.

Cronje failed to convert and, after Debreczeni came close with an audacious penalty kick, made no mistake with his next attempt after a try of impressive individual quality from Williams.

However, Rebels captain Higginbotham was leading by example and carved a hole to cross the line and Debreczeni got the extra two points.

Cronje extended the Sharks' lead with a penalty seven minutes from time, only for the visitors to strike back and ensure a nervy ending.

Following a Rebels turnover deep in their own half, Hegarty completed a fine burst up the field for their third try of the night - converted by Debreczeni, but leaving them just too short.


From Belfast Telegraph