Akker van der Merwe screams in delight after scoring the opening try for the Sharks. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

DURBAN – The Sharks raced out of the blocks and never looked back en route to a thrilling 38-12 Super Rugby victory over the Highlanders at King’s Park on Saturday.

The hosts led 17-7 at the break before turning on the style to run in a memorable bonus-point win.

The visitors were left stunned by a rollocking start made by the Sharks as captain Ruan Botha burst clear before offloading to hooker Akker van der Merwe to score inside the opening minute. 

One try was soon two as wing Makazole Mapimpi showed his lethal finishing skills, after some fine interplay by his forwards, to crash over in the corner, with Robert du Preez adding the extras.

The momentum shifted with the Kiwi side finally getting something to show for a period of dominance as flank Dillon Hunt scored from a rolling maul in the 28th minute.

The Sharks started the second half like the first, with Mapimpi narrowly missing out on a second try, before Daniel du Preez finished off a splendid team move started with a long pass flung out wide by brother Robert and ended with Daniel collecting from Lukhanyo Am to score.

Sharks wing Makazole Mapimpi comes face-to-face with Highlanders opposite number Waisake Naholo at Kings Park on Saturday. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

In the 62nd minute, Sbu Nkosi finished off a superb team effort as he raced onto a delicate kick in behind from Robert du Preez to stretch the lead to 24 points.

The flyhalf was having a game to remember as the Sharks once again ran riot, with Curwin Bosch collecting a high ball and weaving his way through the hapless defence before finding Du Preez, who converted his own try.

It took all of 73 minutes for Ben Smith to burst into life as he weaved his way clear before sending Tei Walden over in the corner for a consolation try.

Points-Scorers

Sharks 38 – Tries: Akker van der Merwe, Makazole Mapimpi, Daniel du Preez, Sbu Nkosi, Robert du Preez. Conversions: Robert du Preez (5). Penalty: Robert du Preez (1).

Highlanders 12 – Tries: Dillon Ward, Tei Walden. Conversion: Lima Sopoaga.

African News Agency (ANA)