- Aphelele Fassi's return to the Sharks fold was illustrated in the weekend's win over Griquas as his presence provides some X-factor to the side with the business end of the Currie Cup approaching.
- Head coach Sean Everitt hailed the 22-year-old fullback's influence, saying he brings a lot of skill and "energy" into the mix.
- The Sharks mentor also highlighted the determination of a pack that shrugged off recent criticism with a powerful showing.
Aphelele Fassi's energy and instinctiveness could be the exact tonic the Sharks need going into the business end of the Currie Cup campaign.
For the majority of the campaign, the Durbanites have been churning out positive results while lacking a more spontaneous edge.
Saturday's 47-19 victory over the Griquas at King's Park, which saw the hosts dot down seven times, could possibly signal a change in that state of affairs.
Fassi, back in his preferred position at fullback, was at the heart of his team's bustling showing.
It wasn't a perfect performance by any stretch of the imagination.
The 22-year-old totally overran a dummy run from an attacking scrum early in the first half, which led to a certain try going abegging.
Yet by the 76th minute, Fassi was weaving his magic, notably snapping up a Griqua cross-kick from their own 10m line with consummate ease to finish off his day's work.
"I said before the game that Aphelele brings a lot of energy to our team," said Sean Everitt, the Sharks' head coach.
"He's a real livewire who's really dangerous from the back. It was a massive improvement from his return to play last week (as replacement against the Cheetahs). His showing just illustrated again what a talent he is. He's a great guy and he gives us X-factor."
Fassi's exploits though were complemented by a much maligned pack of forwards that responded well to various challenges, ranging from Covid protocols to its own indifferent form.
"They really dominated," said Everitt.
"It was driven by a few excellent performances. Henco Venter was one of the standouts, starting in the No 6 jersey for the first time. Thembelani Bholi and Sikhumbuzo Notshe weren't far behind. (Hooker) Fez Mbatha performed really well and hats off to (tighthead) Michael Kumbirai, who came in for some heavy criticism but managed to put in a good performance."
The Sharks mentor noted that he could've singled various other individuals too, attesting to the fact that the victory really was down to a solid collective performance, an achievement rendered even more satisfying by their struggles of the previous two encounters, where the Lions and Cheetahs dominated them.
"I knew the guys would bounce back," said Everitt.
"They've been trying hard over the past few weeks. There was pressure on us going into this game, we needed to target a bonus point.
"We had a simple plan and the players did really well to execute it and get the full match points on offer, which has put us in the semifinals."