HomeSportRugbyMichalak fires Sharks into final

Michalak fires Sharks into final

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CAPE TOWN — Former France fly-half Frederic Michalak slotted two crucial drop goals and set up one of the Sharks’ two tries to spark a 26-19 upset over the table-topping Stormers on Saturday and set up a Super Rugby final against the Waikato Chiefs.

Winger Louis Ludik and centre JP Pietersen scored tries for the Sharks, who not only had to break down the best defensive side in the competition, but also overcome an exhausting travel schedule.

Michalak, capped 56 times for France, played with immense composure and variety and ended up with 16 points after also adding two conversions and two penalties.

He was given an easy ride by the Sharks forwards, who dominated the contact areas and set- piece, while their marauding loose forwards and rampaging hooker Bismarck du Plessis made plenty of ground with the ball.

“The boys put their bodies on the line and it was tough coming to Newlands having spent last week in Australia,” said Sharks captain Keegan Daniel, whose side travelled to Brisbane to beat the defending champion Queensland Reds last week.

“But the boys showed resilience . The front row and the tight five really put their hands up.”

The Stormers opened the scoring against their South African rivals when lock Eben Etzbeth barrelled over the top of du Plessis and set up a penalty that flyhalf Peter Grant easily converted.

The Sharks then seized control of the game, pinning the Stormers back in their own half and going ahead with a penalty and drop goal.

Ludik grabbed the opening try for the Durban-based side when he caught a high kick from fullback Riaan Viljoen, stepped inside and raced away to the line.

Grant, however, reduced the deficit right on halftime when he landed a second penalty to narrow the score to 13-6.

Michalak extended the lead early in the second half when the Stormers were penalised for collapsing a rolling maul from a lineout.

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