Poor James O’Connor. Things just didn’t go well for him against the Sharks on Friday night, including a bit of a halftime spat with a team mate, then late in the game with this absolute howler of a kick that landed square in the bread basket of Stefan Ungerer.
The first half was frustrating for O’Connor and the Reds, who went 10-0 down within 15 minutes following a try from Sharks number nine, Ungerer.
By halftime it was 16-7 and on the hooter O’Connor, Adam Thomson and Will Genia failed to take advantage of a bit of space down the blindside. O’Connor was visibly frustrated, and that boiled over into the change room, as cameras caught he and All Black Thomson having a full go at one another. Genia was peacemaker, and later played down the incident.
With ten minutes left in the game the former Wallaby star received a loopy pass from Karmichael Hunt then screwed the clearing kick straight into the arms of Ungerer, who incredibly had actually just pulled a muscle as he attempted to place pressure on the kick.
He gave up the chase, but must have been as shocked as everyone else as the ball landed straight in his arms, allowing him to stride a few paces, injured leg and all, and dive over for his second try of the night.
“It was a brilliant catch and James O’Connor was devastated,” said Tim Horan of the incident.
The mistimed kick summed up the night, and at times the season, as the Reds chances seemed to fade away as the Durban based Sharks held on for a much needed 21-14 win.
“It’s a team sport. You never like seeing individuals take a blow like that,” said Reds skipper James Slipper. “It’s obviously not what we wanted but we’re going to have to rally around him.”
See more Bloopers and bizarre bits of play in the See It To Believe It section