Durban’s Sharks kicked off their 2016 Super Rugby season with an 8-43 bonus point Super Rugby victory over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.
The Southern Kings put their financial troubles behind them and started brightly before the Sharks depth and quality started becoming evident.
The Sharks outscored the Southern Kings by seven tries to one in the contest which earns them the bonus point.
The visiting Sharks scored five tries in the second half, while the hosts had only a solitary five-pointer to show for what was, at times, a very encouraging afternoon for the embattled franchise.
Initially it was thought that the Sharks would dominate from the start, but that was not the case.
While the Sharks showed good intensity during the early exchanges, poor discipline by scrumhalf Cobus Reinach allowed the Kings to clear their lines and set-up an attacking platform from where they scored their try.
Reinach grabbed an opponent around the neck after the whistle had gone, and from two solid rolling mauls the Kings eventually snuck over the Sharks try-line with flank Chris Cloete emerging with the ball in his hands.
With 10-minutes played the home side enjoyed a 5-0 lead, but the Sharks were quick to reply through flyhalf Joe Pietersen who knocked-over a penalty in what was his team’s first real attacking opportunity of the match.
The Sharks then steadily built momentum and were able to get quality first-phase possession that led to a fairly easy finish by evergreen wing Odwa Ndungane.
Pietersen, like his opposite number earlier, failed to convert the try, which meant that his team had only a three-point lead at the 16-minute mark (5-8).
From a positive start to a situation where unforced errors prevented any sort of build-up, the Sharks became their own worst enemies.
The Kings took advantage of this and, as the half-hour mark approached, it was all-square again at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium following a penalty by Elgar Watts.
In another rare attacking opportunity, flank Jean-Luc du Preez was able to celebrate his first taste of Super Rugby with a try after new recruit Coenie Oosthuizen barged over a few defenders to create the space out wide.
This time Pietersen made no mistake with the conversion and the Durban-based outfit suddenly opened up a seven-point lead going into the break (8-15).
A few harsh words at the interval seemed to do the trick for the Sharks as fullback Willie le Roux scored his team’s third try, three minutes after the break.
Le Roux sliced through three defenders and this resulted in his team doubling their lead (8-22) following a more calculated build-up.
Centre Paul Jordaan then hung onto a perfectly-timed pass by Pietersen to score his team’s fourth of the afternoon – silencing the already skeptical local supporters.
The home side tried their best to get back into the match, but with each passing minute the visitors grew in confidence which allowed them to set up camp in the Kings’ 22.
Eventually the Kings managed to get out of their territory following an impressive run by centre JP du Plessis.
The change in field position was, however, short-lived as Lwazi Mvovo rounded-off on the 60-minute mark after his team turned over possession deep inside their own territory.
Leading 36-8 the Sharks were able to bring on their bench and even then, the next unforced error by the Kings was only a phase or two away.
Ndungane put the final nail in the proverbial coffin with three minutes remaining in the contest.
Final Score Southern Kings 8 (8) Sharks 43 (15)
Tries – C.Cloete
Pen – E.Watts
Tries – O. Ndungane 2, J.-L. du Preez, W. le Roux, P. Jordaan, LWazi Mvovo, M.Coetzee
Con – J.Pietersen 5
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Ref 1:Rodney Bonaparte
Assistant Ref 2:AJ Jacobs
TMO : Marius Jonker
15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Shane Gates (vc), 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 John Charles (JC) Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements : 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Louis Alberts, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Cyril-John Velleman, 21 Leighton Eksteen, 22 Louis Fouché, 23 Charles Radebe.
15. Willie le Roux , 14. Odwa Ndungane , 13. Paul Jordaan , 12. Andre Esterhuizen , 11. Lwazi Mvovo , 10. Joe Pietersen , 9. Cobus Reinach , 8. Daniel du Preez , 7. Jean-Luc du Preez , 6. Marcell Coetzee , 5. Hyron Andrews , 4. Etienne Oosthuizen , 3. Coenie Oosthuizen , 2. Franco Marais , 1. Tendai Mtawarira (C)
Replacements : 16. Kyle Cooper , 17. Juan Schoeman , 18. Lourens Adriaanse , 19. Dave McDuling , 20. Philip van der Walt , 21. Michael Claassens , 22. Garth April , 23. S’bura Sithole