Sharks kick off Currie Cup campaign with clinical demolition of Pumas
DURBAN - The Sharks ended Super Rugby Unlocked campaign on a depressing note when their match against the Stormers was called off but a week later they bounced back emphatically with a polished demolition of the Pumas in the very first match of the Currie Cup.
This year the Sharks seem to save their best for the unfortunate Pumas — their win in Nelspruit a month ago was their best performance post-lockdown — and they were irrepressible in the first half of this match, scoring five tries without reply to set up the bonus-point win.
Log points were vital for the Durbanites given that they began the Currie Cup four points behind the Bulls, the Super Rugby Unlocked champions, and the points harvested last night take them to the top of the table, even if only for a day — the Bulls and Western Province meet at Newlands on Saturday.
There was plenty of energy from the home team in the first half an hour and three of their tries came from mistakes made by pressurized Pumas players deep in their half.
The chief scavenger for the Sharks was captain Jeremy Ward, who first charged down a kick for a try and then manufactured a second when he flung an opponent over behind his try-line, dislodging the ball, and then he grounded it for the score.
They were soft tries conceded by the visitors and while their coach Jimmy Stonehouse would have been pulling his hair out, it was lethal finishing by the Sharks.
Nippy scrumhalf Sanela Nohamba scored a typically cheeky try just before half time and there was an obligatory maul try scored by powerful hooker Kerron van Vuuren, who seems to be able to score off the back of a lineout at will.
At 31-3 at half time the job was pretty much done for the Sharks, and while the Pumas scored first in the second half, and fought back admirably, the Sharks remained firmly in control.
There was a brilliant cameo from Springbok wing Sbu Nkosi, who scored two fine tries, one of them made when he spectacularly plucked the ball out of the air. He is making habit of it — it was his aerial skills that won the Sharks the game against Griquas when he brilliantly won a kick-off.
Sharks: Tries: Jeremy Ward (2), Sbu Nkosi (2), Kerron van Vuuren, Sanele Nohamba, Dylan Richardson.
Conversions: Curwin Bosch (5)
Pumas: Try: Phumzile Maqondwana. Penalty Ginter Smuts. Conversion: Smuts