Sharks hunt down the Blues
Things go from bad to worse for Lam's side
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 13/04/12 10:58am
The Sharks piled the pressure on the underfire Blues as they snatched a 29-23 victory at Eden Park.
A difficult week for the Blues, that saw coach Pat Lam hit out at racist abuse and captain Keven Mealamu criticise team-mate Piri Weepu, got worse as they lost their sixth game of the season.
Despite controlling the game for long periods, the Blues were made to pay for two costly interceptions - while a controversial fourth try for the Sharks rubbed salt into the wounds.
Steven Sykes, Craig Burden, Keegan Daniel and Tim Whitehead all crossed for the South Africans, while Patrick Lambie added nine points.
The Blues game themselves hope through tries from Tony Woodcock and Benson Stanley and 13 points from Gareth Anscombe, but it wasn't to be.
The Blues got off to a shocking start as they conceded 13 points in the opening 20 minutes - with both tries coming via interceptions.
First Daniel snaffled Stanley's pass from 60m out and, although Anscombe caught the Sharks captain before the line, Sykes was on hand to pick up and dive over.
Lambie missed the conversion but made no mistake with a penalty.
And the Blues clearly hadn't learned their lessons with Burden crossing for the second try following another intercept. Chris Lowrey was this time guilty of throwing a wayward pass, with Burden racing clear to score. Lambie converted to make it 13-0 after 18 minutes.
The score was harsh on the Blues who had enjoyed the better of possession and territory
Anscombe got the Blues on the board, though, with a penalty and then slotted over the extras after Woodcock burrowed over following Charlie Faumuina's drive forward.
It was just reward for the home side's efforts and they cut the deficit to just two points by half-time with a further Anscombe penalty.
When Stanley crossed immediately after the break it seemed the tide was finally turning for the Blues. A poor pass from Daniel at a scrum in the Sharks 22 bounced past everyone, allowing Stanley to scoop up and dive over. Anscombe converted.
The Sharks response was instant, though, as Daniel atoned for his earlier error. Burden made the initial break and Daniel was on hand to power over. Lambie's conversion put the visitors into a 22-20 lead.
And the Sharks extended their lead in controversial fashion through Whitehead. Lambie had cut through the Blues line and found Daniel, who in turn passed the ball out to Whitehead. The centre failed to gather the initial pass but he took it at the second attempt after the ball bounced off Hadleigh Parkes, with Whitehead sprinting away to score. Lambie converted.
The Blues gave themselves hope with Anscombe's three-pointer with 13 minutes left but the Sharks were able to shut up shop.