The wall did break, but it was only for one try, and to be frank, the Sharks seemed to rally after that score as they attempted to turn the tide again
The Sharks will be pleased with their start to the Super Rugby season, having gathered the maximum amount of points, winning home and away, and beating a traditionally tough opponent from New Zealand.
A look at Saturday’s clash, in blistering heat in Durban, tells a tale of two halves. It opened up well for the home team as they raced to a 19-0 lead in the first half, but the second half saw the Blues up their game and put the Sharks on the back foot as they defended for nearly the full second 40 minutes.
Sharks coach Robert du Preez said after the game that it had almost a feel of a Test match.
The Sharks did enough in the first half to stun the Blues and keep them under pressure, but they also showed character and guts to hold out the New Zealanders despite being under a lot of pressure in the second half.
The wall did break, but it was only for one try, and to be frank, the Sharks seemed to rally after that score as they attempted to turn the tide again.
There were a few key moments for the Sharks through the game, some of them quite magical, that showed the Durban side have something good about them bubbling under this year.
In the second half, there were two bone-jarring tackles from Jeremy Ward that lifted not only the Sharks’ defence, but brought the crowd right back into the clash.
Another defensive gem from Lukhanyo Am forced a pass from a Blues player that allowed Curwin Bosch to intercept and race in for the bonus point score.
These moments of magic are important to remember as they came about firstly from a substitute in Ward, whose aim is to lift the team, especially in trying conditions, but also because these moments came with the Sharks under the pump.
However, there were some great attacking moments of magic as well. Makazole Mapimpi’s footballing skills were supremely impressive in keeping the ball alive, setting up the young Aphelele Fassi for his first try in Super Rugby.
Key turnovers, big tackles, slick hands and good handling permeated the Sharks’ game.
It was not a full 80-minute whitewash of the Blues, as the game ebbed and flowed, and perhaps the Test match description was apt.
Up next the Sharks will welcome the Stormers to Kings Park. It will be an interesting build-up week as the men from the Cape looked as if they were going to be pushovers until they stunned the Lions.
This means the Sharks cannot afford to be complacent if they want to maintain their good start to the season, and they have to be focused and switched on this coming weekend.