A Sharks team featuring several returning Springboks proved too strong for the Vodacom Bulls in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash in Durban on Friday night.
Captain Lukhanyo Am, who along with fellow Springboks Makazole Mapimpi, Siya Kolisi, Sbu Nkosi and Bongi Mbonambi making his Sharks debut, returned from Test duty to reinforce the hosts and their impact was decisive in securing a 30-16 victory.
While the Sharks dominated territory and possession in the first half and had the Bulls scrum going backwards at a rate of knots, it was the visitors who went into the break 13-9 ahead. This was thanks to a try from David Kriel, playing at fullback in a late enforced change to the Bulls team, and two penalties from Morne Steyn.
The Sharks kept the heat on in the second half and flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain managed to find his range after missing a couple of shots at goal in the first half.
The key turning point came when Am read a Bulls attack excellently and intercepted a pass from Steyn, running from just outside his own 22-metre area to score and put the Sharks ahead for the first time since the 19th minute.
Steyn and Chamberlain exchanged penalties before the Bulls’ woes at the set-piece were exacerbated when Lizo Gqoboka, on as a substitute in an unfamiliar tighthead prop position, was yellow-carded for another scrum collapse.
From there, the Sharks took advantage as a driving maul saw Kerron van Vuuren score a try to all but seal the result.