Cape Town - Western Province outmuscled the Sharks in their top-of-the-table Currie Cup encounter to claim a 50-28 victory in Cape Town on Saturday.
In a topsy-turvy match, in which both sides gave the ball plenty of air, the home side got the rub of the green in the end and eventually outscored the Sharks by seven tries to four with SP Marais leading the way with a 20-point haul courtesy of a try, six conversions and a penalty.
The game started at a frenetic pace and the Sharks drew first blood when Marius Louw crossed the whitewash as early as the first minute after running onto a pass from Lwazi Mvovo, who did well to free his hands for the offload after being stopped close to the tryline.
Robert du Preez added the extras but despite that early lead, the home side soon took control of proceedings and scored 31 unanswered points over the next 30 minutes.
Province took the ball through some phases inside the visitors' 22 before Jaco Coetzee, who was a late replacement for Juarno Augustus, went over from close quarters for their opening try.
WP soon extended their lead when Ruhan Nel intercepted a wayward pass from Tyler Paul and outpaced the cover defence before crossing the whitewash. Marais converted both tries and added a penalty in the 17th minute which gave WP a 17-7 lead.
The home side continued to dominate and in the 23rd minute Dillyn Leyds ran onto an inside pass from Ernst van Rhyn before racing away to score his side's third try.
Two minutes later, Sergeal Petersen gathered a pass from Nel on his 10-metre line before rounding Curwin Bosch on his way over the tryline. Marais maintained his perfect record off the kicking tee which meant the hosts were cruising with the score 31-7 in their favour.
The Sharks needed a response and that came courtesy of two tries in the half's last 10 minutes. First, Paul barged over from close quarters in the 32nd minute and on the stroke of half-time Gideon Koegelenberg shrugged off a couple of defenders before dotting down.
With both tries converted, it meant the home side held a 31-21 lead at the interval but just like the first half, the Sharks were fastest out of the blocks after the break when flyhalf Du Preez threw a long pass to Aphelele Fassi, who went over in the right-hand corner.
Du Preez slotted the conversion which meant WP held a slight three-point lead although the next 20 minutes was a tighter affair as both sides battled to gain the ascendancy.
Province eventually extended their lead in the 64th minute when Marais ran onto a pass from Herschel Jantjies before crashing over for their fifth try.
WP finished stronger and in the 72nd minute JJ Engelbrecht and Marais traded passes before Engelbrecht crossed for a deserved try and just before full-time Chad Solomon scored their final try off the back of a lineout drive deep inside Sharks territory.
Tries: Jaco Coetzee, Ruhan Nel, Dillyn Leyds, Sergeal Petersen, SP Marais, JJ Engelbrecht, Chad Solomon
Conversions: Marais (6)
Tries: Marius Louw, Tyler Paul, Gideon Koegelenberg, Aphelele Fassi
Cons: Robert du Preez (4)
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 SP Marais, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak
Substitutes: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 JJ Engelbrecht
15 Curwin Bosch, 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 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle (captain), 1 Juan Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Ruben van Heerden, 19 Luke Stringer, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Leolin Zas, 22 Aphelele Fassi