The Sharks re-ignited their Super Rugby campaign with a 32-15 victory over the Hurricanes at Kings Park in Durban.
The Sharks outscored the Hurricanes by four tries to two in the match and the victory is their fifth in 10 matches played this season.
The loss for the Hurricanes is their fourth from ten matches and means that they finish their tour of South Africa with one bonus point win and a loss.
The Sharks move up to 26 points and are now within a point of the Africa 2 Conference leaders the Lions who are on 27 points with a game in hand.
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After the teams were level-pegging 8-all at the half-time break, the Sharks took the game by the scruff of the neck and ran in three unanswered tries.
However, it was not enough to bag a bonus point because the Hurricanes’ late flurry produced try in a contest in which the Sharks outscored their opponents 4-2 in the try count.
In the opening minutes, both sides had opted to keep ball in hand even trying to run their way out from deep defensive positions. There wasn’t much variation on attack until Sharks flyhalf Garth April intervened with a great touch which opened up the Highlanders’ defence out wide in the right channel.
However, his off-load to centre Paul Jordaan who ran in to score under posts, was adjudged ‘forward’ after a request for the TMO to review the play in the 11th minute.
Another scoring chance went a begging four minutes later when winger Lwazi Mvovo kicked ahead after the Sharks had taken play into to the Hurricanes’ 22-metre area. As he set off on the chase to the tryline, he was taken out with a bump by Hurricanes fullback James Marshall and he ended up sprawling on the turf. I
Instead of a yellow card for the offender, South African referee Marius van der Westhuizen awarded a penalty which April converted.
The Highlanders regained the initiative for a sustained spell as the Sharks were forced to settle for a largely defensive role in their own half. On two occasions, the Hurricanes dropped the ball some 10 metres out from the tryline although the Sharks’ defence did well to man up in what was proving to a really physical encounter.
The Hurricanes managed to come away with a 23rd minute Beauden Barrett penalty for all their attacking efforts but there was more reward seven minutes later when their loosehead prop Reg Goodes ran an excellent line from six metres out to streak through the defence for the opening try in the match. Barrett’s conversion was wide.
There was a strong finish by the Sharks to the first half as they looked to claw away at the New Zealand visitors’ lead. Their flanker Keegan Daniel turned talisman with great break downfield and he left the Hurricanes’ defence in disarray. They were unable to regroup sufficiently to stop the Sharks’ surge and winger JP Pietersen crashed over close to the corner flag.
April’s conversion attempt was held out by the upright and the team made off to the change rooms with scores locked at 8-all.
The crowd has hardly taken their seats in the second half when Daniel and Pietersen again came to the fore with plays that opened the way for the Sharks’ next try. Moments after Keagan had stolen a Hurricanes line-out deep inside the home side’s half, the Sharks were able to transfer to the opposing half.
The Hurricanes subsequently dropped a pass inside their own half where Pietersen pounced with a kick ahead and then outstripped the cover defence to score a second try. April converted to open up a 15-8 lead in the 45th minute.
The Hurricanes were in for another rude surprise six minutes later after the Sharks’ pack rumbled on towards the try-line. They were awarded a penalty five metres out and quick-thinking scrum-half Michael Claassens nipped in from a tap penalty for the Sharks’ third try, which April converted.
Two minutes on, the stand-out flyhalf April made way for Patrick Lambie who was given a rousing welcome by the fans in the ‘Shark Tank’ and he was barely three minutes on the field when he landed a penalty to give his side a commanding 25-8 lead.
The match was as good as over in the 69th minute when Daniel du Preez, the Sharks’ No 8, scored his side fourth try and with Lambie converting for a 32-8 lead, there was finally a real hope of a South African Super Rugby victory over a New Zealand side.
The Hurricanes scored a consolation try late in the match through Marshall and substitute Jason Woodward goaled the conversion.
Next week the Sharks travel to Buenos Aires to play the Jaguares while the Hurricanes return home where they will host the Reds in Wellington.
Final Score Sharks 32 (8) Hurricanes 15 (8)
Tries – JP.Pietersen 2, M.Claasens, D.du Preez
Pen – G.April , P.Lambie
Con – G.April, P.Lambie
Tries – R.Goodes, J.Marshall
Pen – B.Barrett
Con – J.Woodward
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 1:Quinton Immelman
Assistant Ref 2:Rodney Bonaparte
TMO :Marius Jonker
15. Willie le Roux, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Garth April, 9. Michael Claasens, 8. Daniel du Preez, 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Tendai Mtawarira (C)
Replacements: 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Thomas du Toit, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Jean Deysel, 21. Stefan Ungerer, 22. Patrick Lambie, 23. Odwa Ndungane
15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (vc), 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Reggie Goodes
Replacements : Motu Matu’u, Chris Eves, Ben May, Mark Abbott, Blade Thomson, Jamison Gibson-Park, Willis Halaholo, Jason Woodward.,