The Sharks showed why they are favourites for the Currie Cup title by brushing past the Blue Bulls in a bonus-point 35-16 win on Saturday.
The Sharks illustrated why they are favourites to retain the Currie Cup title as they crushed the Blue Bulls in a bonus-point 35-16 win on Saturday.
Durban was treated to a clinical display from its beloved side, who were led superbly by captain and try-scoring back-row forward Keegan Daniel.
International call-ups had meant that both teams were missing big names but the Sharks didn't let it affect their dynamic gameplan, with Frederic Michalak rolling back the years at number 10.
Daniel scored the Sharks' fourth while Michalak, Louis Ludik and Marcell Coetzee added the rest. The visitors' solitary try came from Derick KuÃ¼n.
The Blue Bulls went in front after four minutes when ten Francois Brummer made no mistake with his penalty attempt from 40 metres out.
Sharks coach John Plumtree's men hit straight back in the form of an opening try though – Craig Burden's drive was held up short and scrum-half Ross Cronje picked up the pieces by spreading the ball wide to Michalak for his third Currie Cup try of his South African career.
The conversion curled in from the right touchline to put the hosts 7-3 ahead after nine minutes. Another penalty gave Brummer a second shot though, which he took.
The Blue Bulls fly-half then put his side back in front after the first quarter when he made it three from three. However, a penalty from Michalak pushed his side back into the lead before great vision from the French playmaker allowed the men in black to extend their lead. Michalak caught the visitors unaware by taking a quick penalty which he kicked across the field to an unmarked wing Ludik, who finished off in the right-hand corner.
The conversion was missed but, Brummer returned the favour at the other end when he squandered his fourth penalty attempt at goal.
With time running out in the first-half, Cronje's brilliance saw him dummy near the halfway line and dash forward, before good link work with Jacques Botes and Keegan Daniel allowed Coetzee to score under the posts. Michalak converted to make it 22-9 at the break.
After the restart, Gerhard van den Heever came close to scoring but fumbled the ball on the line. The visitors, however, did come out strongly as there was no stopping KuÃ¼n as he barged through in the 46th minute, a try converted by Brummer.
Daniel restored the 13-point lead shortly after though, when he went over for his 28th career try in the competition, with Michalak converting nicely.
After another sustained period of pressure on attack came to nothing for the Bulls, the Frenchman made the game safe with two further penalties to seal their opening win.
Tries: Michalak, Ludik, Coetzee, Daniel
Con: Michalak 3
Pen: Michalak 3
For Blue Bulls:
Pen: Brummer 3
Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Mark Richards, 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 Eugene van Staden.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Jan Andre Marais, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Jacobus Reinach, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Sibusiso Sithole.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Stephan Dippenaar, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Akona Ndungane, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Dustin Jinka, 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Derick KuÃ¼n, 5 JuandrÃ© Kruger, 4 Fudge Mabeta, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Gary Botha (c), 1 CornÃ© Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Okkie Kruger, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Francois Venter.
Referee: Jaco Peyper