DURBAN - There are two ways at looking at this non-spectacle of a Currie Cup match, ultimately painstakingly won 29-0 by the Sharks.
You can take the sympathetic view that it was always going to be incredibly tough for the Sharks to replicate the intensity with which they (unluckily) lost to the Lions at Ellis Park in the Super Rugby quarter-final in their preceding match.
Or you can say that the Currie Cup as a competition can only get better after hitting the ground with a resounding splat.
It was never going to hit the ground running while Super Rugby was still on the go, and it has been a curious decision by Saru to have the first three rounds of the Currie Cup running concurrently with the last three weeks of Super Rugby.
In short, the Currie Cup can only get better once Super Rugby is over. It certainly can’t get worse ....
To reiterate, the Sharks could not seem to raise themselves pyschologically after the drama at Ellis Park (much of the team in action yesterday played in that match), and you can forgive them for switching out of Cup final mode.
Playing against the Lions in a blockbuster at Ellis Park one week, then a Currie Cup match against the Pumas at an empty Kings Park the next ... And that is after earlier in the day the Lions playing a sensational match against the Hurricanes in Johannesburg.
No wonder many a Kings Park patron chose to watch that match on TV at home and not travel down to Kings Park for what was always going to be a damp squib of a match.
Even so, we expected a Sharks side that was not far off Super Rugby standard to be leading by more than three points at half time.
They got a roasting, no doubt, at half time and they played with more intent in the second and scored the four tries they needed to get the bonus point.
They held the Pumas scoreless, so at least there was good news on defence.
But there was not much more to cheer about for Sharks fans. It was a poor match, and it is perhaps fair comment that after the disappointment of losing to the Lions, the Sharks players were going to battle to raise themselves to do more than go through the motions.
Even so, the handling errors in the first half meant the Pumas had an endless succession of scrum feed-ins. It is hard to find excuses for so many errors.
In the second half, the Sharks did cut down that error rate, kept more possession as a result and ground out four tries to get a bonus-point try, all of them scored by the backs.
This week the Sharks host Griquas on Friday night and they will have to be better than this to beat the ever combative Kimberley men, but they know that.