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Sharks tear Highlanders apart

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The Sharks trounced the Highlanders 38-12 with a commanding display at a slippery Kings Park, Durban.

In Durban, like at Glencoe, the Lowland Sharks invited the Otago Highlanders in with promises of hospitality but slaughtered them with a thrilling performance: death by rugby.

Robert du Preez dictated the match, scoring 18 points, including a five-pointer.

Highlanders defence coach Glenn Delaney said that he expected the opposition to be “no pushovers” and he was correct.

The Kiwis were outplayed in every facet of the game as their hosts ran rings around and through them.

The South Africans outscored the New Zealanders five tries to two, but could have, and should have scored more.

The Sharks were impressive, dominating the first half and scoring two tries inside seven minutes.

Akker van der Merwe scored after the kick-off and Makazole Mapimpi dotted down in the corner to give the home team a 14-0 lead.

Dillon Hunt halved the deficit for the Highlanders before Robert du Preez’s penalty gave the South Africans a 10-point halftime advantage.

They were too strong for the Otago side, running in three more tries in the second stanza.

Daniel du Preez, Sbu Nkosi and Robert du Preez all scored well-worked tries after the interval as the Sharks ran away convincing winners.

Teihorangi Walden crossed in the 75th-minute but it was scant consolation for the men from Dunedin.

Jekyll and Hyde men in black

Form is a rum thing; and the Sharks are a rum team, losing games they should win, and winning games they are not fancied to.

The Highlanders have now lost five of their last six games against the east coast franchise but were favourites coming into the clash after some questionable recent performances by the Sharks.

The men from Durban have been thrashed by the Bulls at home and the Rebels in Melbourne.

They have sandwiched those losses with wins over the Stormers in the home derby and a one-point away to the Hurricanes.

The Highlanders, on the other hand, came into the fixture with form after wins over the Brumbies, Blues and Bulls.

Crazy start.

The home team was out of the blocks straight from the kick-off when Ruan Botha won the ball and sent Van der Merwe away for a first-minute try.

Mapimpi was soon over the whitewash with another clinical finish which the winger has become known.

Hunt crossed before the half-hour after a well-executed rolling maul from his forwards, set up the score.

It was the last time the visitors would score until the final moments of the one-sided match.

Du Preez extended his team’s lead before the break.

Second-half dominance.

Possession is nine-tenths of the law in sports, and the Sharks proved the theory correct as the squeezed the life out of their opponents with long periods of ball-in-hand.

They camped inside the visitor’s half, but some sloppy handling kept letting the Kiwis off.

Missed tackles and lack of possession was hindering the away team. They just could not get out of their half, or string a series of phases together.

Daniel du Preez scored after some smart work between himself, Lukhanyo Am and Mapimpi after Du Preez switched play.

André Esterhuizen went close. Thomas du Toit was dominating the scrums and the Sharks’ loose- forwards the breakdown.

Everytime the home team attacked, they looked like scoring. The pressure told.

The Highlanders are being opened up far too easily, especially in the wide channels.

Then, some magic from Du Preez and Nkosi, who combined for the fourth try.

Nkosi showed his wheels, chasing Du Preez’s deft grubber, and dotting down before the ball rolled out of play. His score ended the game as a contest.

The flyhalf’s conversion pushed the score to 31-7 with less than 18 minutes remaining.

Instead of taking their foot off the gas, the Sharks increased the tempo.

Curwin Bosch had been causing trouble with his jinking runs. He finally found some space and sped through two tackles and five defenders before setting up his first-five.

Du Preez gathered, checked his run with a swivel before turning and charging to the try-line.

Ben Smith danced his way through the defenders before putting Warden away, but it was inconsequential.

Sharks versus Highlanders video highlights.

Final score: Sharks 38 (17) Highlanders 12 (7)

Scorers

Sharks
Tries – A. Van der Merwe, Mapimpi, D. Du Preez, Nkosi, R. du Preez
Pen – R. du Preez
Con – R. du Preez (5)
Drop –
Cards –

Highlanders
Tries – Hunt, Walden
Pen –
Con – Sopoaga
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 1: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Christie du Preez

Teams

Sharks

15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

Highlanders

15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Patelesio Tomkinson, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seiuli.

Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Kalolo Tuiloma, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Matt Faddes.

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