Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Aphelele Fassi and Curwin Bosch were excellent in the Sharks' win over the Highlanders in Dunedin. Picture: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets
Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Aphelele Fassi and Curwin Bosch were excellent in the Sharks' win over the Highlanders in Dunedin. Picture: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets

New Zealand media give Sharks big thumbs up after Highlanders win

By Mike Greenaway Time of article published Feb 9, 2020

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DURBAN - It is interesting to read in New Zealand publications that the Kiwis are taking careful note of the apparent rude health of South African rugby following the Sharks’ hammering of the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday and the 27-0 hiding the Hurricanes were given by the Stormers the week before.

Under the headline “Highlanders savaged by Sharks,” the Otago Daily Times described the Durban team as “Sharks by name and Sharks by nature" after the “feeding frenzy” at the Forsyth Barr Stadium. The Sharks led 27-3 at half-time and won 42-20.

Senior Sports Writer Paul Scully for the website Stuff.co.nz said: “New Zealand rugby has received another blunt warning that South Africa is riding high after the Highlanders were torn apart.”

Taking into account the Stormers’ win, the writer said SA rugby is “basking in the afterglow of their World Cup win and playing with confidence, power and no small amount of skill.”

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger, the former All Black, gave credit where it was due after his team was outplayed: “The Sharks were very good. They executed their game plan really well,” he said.

Mauger’s opposite number, Sean Everitt, agreed: “I am very happy with the performance. The guys showed a lot of courage in the first half when we were in an arm wrestle for the first 20 minutes, but they stuck to it and then the game opened up and we managed to score some good tries to give us a nice lead at half-time.

“Our defence was outstanding, especially in the first half when it was so tight - even on the few occasions that they broke through on the outside, the energy in the team is so good that we scrambled back to stop them from scoring. This team is new but learning quickly.”

Interestingly, the Sharks’ win was their third in a row in Dunedin. They seem to enjoy the South Island city’s new stadium, which was purpose-built for New Zealand’s hosting of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Previously, rugby was played at the infamous Carisbrook “House of Pain”, the ramshackle, intimidating ground where South African teams almost never won.

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