Sharks No 9 Cobus Reinach was the superior scrumhalf in Durban on Saturday, writes JEREMY PROOME.
Reinach's try in the first half was deserved reward for his contributions throughout the game, doing little wrong throughout the match and showing exactly why he was picked ahead of Charl McLeod.
He proved in his 60 minutes on the field that his speed at the breakdown and attacking vision could help inject the necessary incentive to get the Sharks' impressive backline into the right space and help his team to their opening win of the tournament.
His tactical kicking was stronger than Hougaard's, who looked hesitant and lacklustre at times. He also worked well alongside Pat Lambie, who had a stronger game than usual, thanks to Reinach's delivery and quick decision-making. As good as McLeod is, Reinach provides Lambie with some additional time and security thanks to his consistent and calm work at the base of the ruck or maul.
Reinach's defensive efforts were also a big contribution, fronting up against the big and physical Bulls pack and helping cover space at the back.
Reinach looks like he is set to be a vital piece of Jake White's puzzle for the Super Rugby season, and his performance to kick-start the season is evidence of his importance.
Photos: Barry Aldworth BackpagePix/Sabelo Mngoma/BackpagePix