A solid second-half performance carried the Sharks to a 28-12 victory over the Pumas in Durban on Friday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The hosts will be pleased to simply have claimed the win after a poor first-half showing saw the Pumas claim a 12-7 half-time lead.
A change in tactics saw the Sharks score three unanswered tries to grab the bonus point and momentarily climb to the top of the table.
It was a scrappy start from the hosts, who made a plethora of handling errors while also giving away silly penalties. However, they opened the scoring when centre Jeremy Ward got on the end of a chip through from Robert du Preez to score.
The visitors then stunned the home crowd as they struck twice in the final five minutes of the half. First, good hands from ex-Shark Stefan Ungerer put wing Ruwellyn Isbell in for a try in the corner.
Then big lock Le Roux Roets barged over from close range to suddenly allow the Pumas to take a lead at the break.
The visitors started the second half as they ended the first, putting the Sharks under plenty of pressure by speeding up the game and using their pack to good effect.
However, some good interchanging between forwards and backs saw replacement back Johan Deysel go in to give the Sharks the lead.
It was from this point that the Sharks kicked into gear as their lead was extended when Du Preez again expertly chipped the ball over the defence to allow Aphelele Fassi to gather and sprint clear for a try.
Fassi then turned provider as he grubbered a ball through, which Curwin Bosch gathered to score the bonus-point try and put away the Pumas challenge.
Sharks – Tries: Jeremy Ward, Johan Deysel, Aphelele Fassi, Curwin Bosch. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3).
Pumas – Tries: Ruwellyn Isbell, Le Roux Roets. Conversion: Chris Smith.
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle (c), 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Khutha Mchunu, 18 Andrew Evans, 19 Wian Vosloo, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Johan Deysel, 22 Curwin Bosch.
Pumas – 15 Gerrit Smith, 14 Niel Maritz, 13 Ryan Nell, 12 Hennie Skorbinski (c), 11 Ruwellyn Isbell, 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marné Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Subs: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Jeandré Rudolph, 21 Reynier van Rooyen, 22 Trompie Pretorius.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images