Highlanders go down to Sharks

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Sunday, May 3, 2009    Getty Images

It was the first win in three Super 14 fixtures for the South African franchise, but it was unable to claim a bonus point which could prove costly in its attempt to earn a home tie in the play-offs.

The Sharks, who had won their previous three clashes with the Highlanders, came into the match off a bye week and looked better for the rest.

Although the teams scored two tries apiece, the boot of Rory Kockott proved the difference with the halfback in punishing mood.

Kockott had the first points on the board after eight minutes with a penalty, but the Highlanders hit back three minutes later when hooker Jason Rutledge crossed for the opening try.

First five-eighths Matthew Berquist added the extras to give the visitors an undeserved 7-3 lead, but the Sharks were able to move up a gear and JP Pietersen sparked the move which allowed Steven Sykes to dot down after 17 minutes.

Kockott converted to restore the Sharks' lead and they added to it nine minutes later when Berquist dropped the ball to let Jacques Botes in for another try.

Kockott once more slotted the conversion as the host went 17-7 in front, but the Sharks let their advantage slip as the interval approached with Berquist kicking a penalty before Jimmy Cowan scored the Highlanders' second try of the match to reduce the gap to 17-15 at half-time.

The Sharks continued to rely on the boot of Kockott at the start of the second half and two penalties from the halfback once again gave the South Africans some breathing space.

The rest of match proved a scrappy affair while a lapse in discipline cost both teams in the final 10 minutes.

Daniel Bowden was sent to the bin for the Highlanders following a high tackle, while Kockott saw his impressive display marred by a red card for landing a punch on Adam Thomson.