The Sharks regained their position on the top off the Currie Cup table after a physical 22-10 victory over the defending champion Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday.
Rugby 365 reports that the hosts also ended their 10-match Currie Cup losing streak against the Cheetahs, after going into the interval with a 17-10 lead.
After a rather indifferent start to proceedings, Cheetahs flank and captain Juan Smith capitalised on a crooked throw-in at the line-out by Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis.
Springbok Smith collected the ball just 10 metres out and cantered over for the opening try of the match in the 13th minute.
Yet just moments later, Sharks centre Frans Steyn broke through the Cheetahs defence from 30 metres out and from there he fed the ball to Deon Carstens who went over unopposed. Sharks scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar added the extra two to tie things up at 7-7.
Then with 10 minutes left on the clock until half-time, the visitors edged into the lead after scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn slotted an easy penalty.
However, this clearly had no bearing on the Sharks’ confidence as they patiently played percentage rugby with lock Steven Sykes eventually reaping the rewards as he barged over for the Sharks’ second try.
Pienaar duly converted the try to make it 14-10 and then, minutes later, Steyn produced a moment of magic.
Collecting a Cheetahs clearance kick in his own half, he took a couple of strides forward and lined up a drop-goal from 55 metres out and it sailed high, long and sweet to take the Sharks into a seven-point lead that they took into half-time.
After an absolutely dominant display in the third quarter, the Sharks eventually turned their ascendancy into points with No.8 Keegan Daniel taking advantage of a massive overlap to score the Sharks’ third try midway through the second stanza.
The Sharks continued to control proceedings for the rest of the match and although they couldn’t secure the bonus-point try it could not detract from a magnificent win that sees them go back to the top of the competition standings.
Tries: Carsten, Sykes, Daniel
Cons: Pienaar 2
Con: De Bruyn
Pen: De Bruyn
Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller (captain), 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Skipper Badenhorst, 17 Patric Cilliers, 18 Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, 19 Albert van den Berg, 20 Ryan Kankowski, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Adrian Jacobs.
Cheetahs: 15 Bevin Fortuin, 14 Eddie Fredericks, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Kabamba Floors, 10 Tewis de Bruyn, 9 Neil Powell, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Juan Smith (captain), 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Barend Pieterse, 4 David de Villiers, 3 Kobus Calldo, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Nico Breedt, 19 Heinrich Brüssow, 20 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 21 JW Jonker, 22 Hendrik Meyer.
Referee: Willie Roos
Touch Judges: Phillip Bosch, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Shaun Veldsman