The Sharks scored four tries to claim a 32-27 bonus-point win over Western Province in Durban on Saturday.
Home-ground advantage notwithstanding, the Sharks – on the back of their humiliating defeat by Griquas – came into this encounter as underdogs and with the odds stacked against them.
Western Province, meanwhile, were looking to make it two wins in a row to move within a point of log-leaders Griquas.
But the game didn’t go according to the expected script as the lead exchanged hands several times before the Sharks, unexpectedly, seized control of proceedings to upset Western Province and clinch their first victory under the tutelage of new coach Sean Everitt.
Tries by backs Lwazi Mvovo and Kobus van Wyk coupled with a penalty had the Sharks leading 15-0 at the interval. Towering No 8 Jaco Coetzee – who had another try disallowed – accounted for WP’s only five-pointer of the half.
WP’s task of overturning the deficit became even more difficult when they conceded 10 unanswered points to go 25-10 behind. First JP Pietersen read play beautifully to intercept a floated pass and score under the posts for the Sharks and then Curwin Bosch added the conversion and a penalty.
Western Province injected more urgency in their play and clawed their way back within five. But the Sharks landed a telling blow when hooker Craig Burden dotted down to round off a lethal counter-attack. The game was then on a knife’s edge after Province ran in another try, but the Sharks held their nerve in the dying moments to safely see out match.
Sharks – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, Kobus van Wyk, JP Pietersen, Craig Burden. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (3). Penalties: Bosch (2).
Western Province – Tries: Jaco Coetzee, Ruhan Nel, Josh Stander. Conversions: SP Marais (3). Penalties: Marais (2).
Sharks – 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward (c-c), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (c-c), 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phendulani Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Aphelele Fassi.
Western Province – 15 SP Marais, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 JD Schickerling, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Chris van Zyl (c), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Corne Fourie.
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Josh Stander, 23 Craig Barry.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images