The Sharks beat the Waratahs 32-10 in a bad tempered encounter at Kings Park, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
This was a brutally physical clash between two teams with big packs. There were enough bone-crunching hits to fill a lengthy highlights clip, including a swinging arm that should have resulted in a yellow card, as well as punches thrown in the scrum, according to Bismarck du Plessis.
There were also a high number of handling errors, most of which came in the first half when the Sharks made eight and the Tahs 10.
However, Sharks director of rugby Jake White will be less concerned with the spectacle than the fact that his team got another four log points and that Fred Zeilinga played so well in his first Super Rugby start. The flyhalf attacked the advantage line, was solid on defence, and successful with all seven of his kicks at goal. He seems to be a capable replacement for the injured Pat Lambie.
Bernard Foley opened the scoring for the visitors with a penalty, but they would have been disappointed not to have come away with a try after a strong run from Adam Ashley-Cooper and then several drives at the line.
Zeilinga put the Sharks ahead with three penalties, the second a result of Rob Horne's swinging arm on Frans Steyn. The winger was extremely fortunate not to be sent to the sin bin by New Zealand referee Mike Fraser.
Steyn and Jacques Potgieter were also lucky to stay on the field when, in the same passage of play, Steyn swung Kurtley Beale to the ground by his jersey well after he had passed the ball, and Potgieter charged recklessly into a ruck. But the centre was only penalised and the flanker warned by the referee.
Frans Steyn kicked a 55m penalty, which was sandwiched by two Foley misses, and the Sharks led 12-3 at the break.
Steyn missed another long-range attempt early in the second half, before a yellow card finally was shown. Bizarrely, though, it was for Dave Dennis gently elbowing Du Plessis while the referee was speaking to the players.
Two minutes later, Du Plessis went over from a driving maul to score a crucial try. Zeilinga kicked the conversion and then slotted a penalty.
Japan-bound Keegan Daniel took a quick penalty tap and grabbed the Sharks' second try with eight minutes to go, before Foley dotted down under the posts for a consolation Tahs try.
Zeilinga's fifth penalty, with time up, rounded off a convincing win.
Sharks – Tries: Bismarck du Plessis, Keegan Daniel. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2). Penalties: Zeilinga (5), Frans Steyn.
Waratahs – Try: Bernard Foley. Conversion: Foley. Penalty: Foley.
Sharks – 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S’bura Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 SP Marais.
Waratahs – 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rob Horne, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (c), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Jacques Potgieter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 Tola Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Patrick McCutcheon, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Matt Carraro, 23 Alofa Alofa.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images