The Sharks maintained their unbeaten record after a 43-34 win over the Free State Cheetahs at Kings Park in Durban.
The Sharks maintained their unbeaten record in the Currie Cup, after a 43-34 win over the Free State Cheetahs at Kings Park in Durban.
A fine first half performance by the hosts paved their way to victory, although Free State gave them a scare when they launched a comeback in the second half.
The home side got the match off to a fine start and managed to score their bonus point try as early as the 20th minute.
This occurred when left wing Sibusio Sithole ran on to a pass from his scrum-half Ross Cronje, and burst through a tackle by a Free State defender, before dotting down after a 50 metre run.
Earlier, the Sharks opened the scoring in the fourth minute when right wing Mark Richards scored after a blistering run down the touchline.
In the build-up, his captain Keegan Daniel did well to draw an on-rushing Free Stater before putting the pacy wing in the clear.
Five minutes later, Louis Ludik scored his side's second try after he ran on to a pass from Cronje at a ruck close to the visitors' tryline, and Jacques Botes also got his name on to the scoresheet when he rounded off a move in the 18th minute.
His try came after Stefan Terblanche had broken up a Cheetahs attack close to the Sharks' 22 metre line, before kicking the ball ahead. Cronje and Ludik also handled the ball, before Ludick offloaded to Botes who barged over from close range.
Cheetahs pivot Sias Ebersohn had scored the visitors' only points via a penalty up to that point, but in the 24th minute their wing Riaan Smit intercepted a pass from Cronje before scoring under the posts.
However, Botes crashed over for his second try shortly afterwards after the Sharks went on a drive from a line-out close to the visitors' tryline.
With French international Frederic Michalak in fine kicking form, the Sharks held a 31-10 lead before Free State's number eight Boom Prinsloo wriggled his way over the tryline on the stroke of half-time.
The Sharks were much more subdued in the second half and their only points in this period came through four penalties by Michalak.
Free State launched a late fightback, and managed to narrow the score to 40-34 by the 72nd minute.
This was largely due to well deserved tries by WP Nel and Corne Uys, and fine goalkicking by Ebersohn.
Nel barged over from close quarters in the 58th minute and Uys ran on to a long pass from Ebersohn 10 minutes later, before scoring in the corner.
This gave his side a glimmer of hope, but Michalak sealed the win for the hosts in the 78th minute with his fourth penalty.
However, Ebersohn had an opportunity to gain a losing bonus point for his side with a penalty in injury time, but his kick sailed wide of the upright.
Tries: Botes 2, Richards, Sithole, Ludik
Cons: Michalak 3
Pens: Michalak 4
For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Smit, Prinsloo, Nel, C Uys
Cons: Ebersohn 4
Pen: Ebersohn 2
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Mark Richards, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Sibusio Sithole, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements:16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Jan Andre Marais, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Jacobus Reinach, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Marius Joubert.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 CornÃ© Uys, 12 Andries Strauss (c), 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Johan Wessels, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Michael van Vuuren, 1 Marcel van der Merwe
Replacements:16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen, 19 Pieter Myburgh, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Philip Burger.
Referee: Jason Jaftha