The Reds have been sunk by the ladder-leading Sharks 35-20 in their Super Rugby match in Durban.
Queensland Reds skipper James Horwill has lamented three blown try-scoring opportunities in their 35-20 Super Rugby loss to the ladder-leading Sharks in Durban.
Both teams scored two tries, but the Reds are the ones mulling over what could have been after the ball went astray from centre Mike Harris and fullback Aidan Toua (twice) when they had nothing but tryline white chalk in front.
“We dropped the ball with the line wide open there. That happens, but we need to be better,” said Horwill.
The undefeated Sharks produced a clinical display that had their coach Jake White’s name stamped all over it as the former Brumbies mentor enjoyed delivering his former Australian conference rivals their second loss of the season.
The Reds were behind and chasing from the get-go and Sharks goal-kickers Patrick Lambie and Francois Steyn made them pay dearly for any lapses, kicking nine from nine for a combined haul of 25 points.
“Some ill discipline probably cost us,” Horwill said.
The Reds were plagued by sloppy handling and wayward passes in the first half while the Sharks’ forwards dominated at the breakdown, and skipper Bismarck du Plessis, Marcell Coetzee and Ryan Kankowski often looked immovable over the ball.
The home side outscored the Reds four penalties to two in the opening 26 minutes, before Sharks flanker Willem Alberts scored a try for a 19-6 lead.
After another two Sharks penalty goals, Harris dropped a sitter of a pass with no one in front four metres from the tryline on the stroke of half-time.
Fullback Toua committed a similar sin after the break, before letting another potential seven-pointer go begging minutes later when he dropped his own grubber kick in the process of scoring.
“The opportunities that you get, you need to capitalise on,” Reds coach Richard Graham said.
“That’s probably the difference between being down 28-20 and leading 27-25.”
The Reds continued to play with width, and it finally paid dividends when Harris made amends in the 54th minute.
Reds halfback Will Genia narrowed the gap to 28-20 when he caught the Sharks napping to score.
But the comeback stalled when reserve flanker Beau Robinson was shown a yellow card in the 67th minute for pulling down an opposition player in the lineout.
The Sharks regained dominance, reserve forward Dale Chadwick scoring in the 77th minute.
Reds reserve prop Ben Daley went off the field in second half with a knee problem and will head back to Brisbane on Sunday to have scans.
The eighth-placed Reds will play the Lions in Johannesburg next week, while the Sharks will head to Pretoria to play the Bulls.