Cape Town - The
Sharks managed a comfortable 33-10 bonus-point victory over the Pumas
in their opening Currie Cup game in Nelspruit on Friday.
New head coach Robert du Preez will be pleased with his side's performance, especially away from home, taking into account how many opportunities they missed to score even more tries.
The Pumas, in contrast, will be disappointed to start their campaign with such a disjointed performance. They didn't offer much on attack and their defence was thoroughly tested by the visitors throughout the game.
The Sharks, who missed out on last year's playoffs, have clearly signalled their intent to make amends. The game was played with good intensity and plenty of attacking intent, although the Sharks were much more threatening in that aspect of the match. They also played at a high tempo for most of the game and the Pumas struggled to cope with the onslaught.
The visitors were 14-10 ahead inside the first half hour thanks to tries from Franco Marais and Odwa Ndungane. The visitors played with plenty of freedom, but their execution let them down at times as several attacking moves were made undone by forward passes.
Nevertheless, the Sharks scored a fantastic team try through S'bura Sithole with some slick handling, off-loading in the tackle and their ability to quickly recycle the ball.
The Pumas had their chances, most notably a 5m line-out on the Sharks tryline but they conceded possession to let the visitors off the hook.
Ruan Botha made sure of the result and the bonus point after a pick-up from a rolling maul before Andre Esterhuizen extended the lead to a dominant 33-10.
Tries: Marais, Ndungane, Sithole, Botha, Esterhuizen
Conversions: Bosch (4)
15 Justin van Staden, 14 JP Lewis, 13 Hennie Skorbinski, 12 Marlou van Niekerk, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Lambert Groenewald, 6 Brian Shabangu, 5 Hugo Kloppers (captain), 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Dee-Jay Terblanche, 2 Frankie Herne, 1 Kwezi Mona
Replacements: 16 Swys du Toit, 17 Yskas Kotzé, 18 Wiehan Hay,19 Marnus
Schoeman, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Devon Williams, 22 Deon Helberg
15 Odwa Ndungane, 14 Neil Maritz, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 S'bura Sithole, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Dale Chadwick
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Ruan Botha,
19 Tera Mtembu, 20 Stefan Ungerer, 21 Inny Radebe, 22 Heimar Williams
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Pro Legoete, Ricus van der Hoven