The Sharks won convincingly against the team that, just last week, beat the resurgent Bulls at their Loftus fortress.
The Cell C Sharks raced out of the blocks and never looked back en route to a thrilling 38-12 Super Rugby victory over the Highlanders at King’s Park on Saturday.
The hosts led 17-7 at the break before turning on the style to run in a memorable bonus point win.
The visitors were left stunned by a rollocking start made by the Sharks as captain Ruan Botha burst clear before offloading to hooker Akker van der Merwe to score inside the opening minute.
The visiting Highlanders hardly had parity in the tight phases, and the best they could do was to spoil the home side’s moves. It seemed to be a rout, but then they scored a try from a rolling maul. It was the last time the crowd thought it was a contest.
It was a feeding frenzy and the Sharks were in charge all over the field of play. They had set-piece advantage, dominance in contact and even the great All Black fullback Ben Smith was caught out of position a couple of times.
In fact after the break it was clear that there was only one team playing.
The second half saw tries by Dan du Preez, S`bu Nkosi and Robert du Preez, as the Sharks pulled away. Only a late Teihorangi Walden try gave the scoreline some respectability. The Sharks won convincingly against the team that, just last week, beat the resurgent Bulls at their Loftus fortress.
The question everyone seems to be asking is: where are these ferocious Sharks every other weekend?
However, on the other side of the coin Sanzaar has issued Sharks captain and lock Botha with a warning after foul play in the Saturday’s contest. The incident occurred in the 58th minute of the match. A warning may be issued by the Sanzaar Citing Commissioner for foul play incidents that are very close to, but in his opinion do not meet the Red Card threshold for citings.
In other action star winger Ben Lam scored a hattrick of tries as the Hurricanes cruised to a Super Rugby 28-19 win over the Emirates Lions in Wellington on Saturday.
The Lions’ Super Rugby campaign has hit another stumbling block after they failed to front up on defence against a Hurricanes side that was simply too clinical and classy with ball in hand.
Although a look at the final scoreline shows that just nine points separated the two teams, the fact is that the Lions never looked remotely capable of claiming victory in this contest, with the Johannesburg-based side trailing from the eighth minute until the last.
Following last weekend’s disappointing loss to the Reds, the pressure is beginning to build on a Lions side that will still have to face the Highlanders in Dunedin next weekend before they can return to the comforts of their Ellis Park fortress.
The first 20 minutes completely belonged to the home side, who enjoyed as much as 70 percent of possession and applied relentless pressure through their high-tempo attack.
Although the opening stanza had seen Hurricanes dominate pretty much from start to finish, their high turnover rate proved costly, while the Lions managed to strike back just before the break when scrumhalf Nic Groom finished off an opportunistic try.
To the Lions’ credit, they did look like the better side during the final quarter – with Sylvian Mahuza scoring a late consolation try – but there was simply too much ground for the visitors to make up.
And down in Cape Town the DHL Stormers kept their 2018 Super Rugby home record intact with a well-taken 29-17 win over the VOdacom Bulls in the South African derby at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.
The Stormers, with skipper Siya Kolisi making his 100th appearance and Scarra Ntubeni earning his 50th cap off the bench, made a powerful start against their traditional rivals and took a 12-0 lead before their Pretoria opponents clawed their way back.
The match was a typical, hard-fought and exciting South African rugby derby, with the Cape side especially dominant in the scrums.
Meanwhile, the Jaguares secured a historic clean sweep of victories in Australia and New Zealand by beating the Chiefs 23-19 in Rotorua on Friday morning. During their tour, they also registered away wins over the Rebels, Brumbies and the Blues.
As far as the log is concerned the Lions are still leading the South Africa Conference on 31 points from 11 matches, however, the Jaguares (24 points) have now narrowed the gap to just seven points thanks to their winning run in Australia and New Zealand. As a result of their big victory over the Highlanders, the Sharks moved into the third spot on 23 points, one more than the Stormers, while the Bulls have 20 points.
In next Saturday’s action, the Lions tackle the Highlanders at 9.23am in Dunedin (SA time), the Stormers host the Chiefs in Cape Town from 3.05pm while the Bulls entertain the Sharks in Pretoria at 5.15pm.