Muller’s men forced the pace to make it three wins out of four on the road.
David Starr writes for The Times from Perth that the Super 14 remains a Bull market but the Sharks are in the money too. The Durban side rose to second on the ladder here last night with their third win of their four-game Australasian tour, equalling the league-leading Bulls’ feat of two years ago.
But Subiaco Oval has always been a happy hunting ground for SA sides.
The Springboks are 3-1-3 in Perth and South Africa’s Super 14 sides are an astonishing 6-2 at the ground, with only the feeble Cheetahs yet to win here.
Defence was decisive for the Sharks, who spent all but a few minutes of the second half in their half, yet scored three tries. Two of them, by wingers JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane, were from length-of-the-field counter-attacks.
The Force wore pink to promote a breast-cancer initiative, but the Sharks beat them black and blue with a succession of punishing tackles. They repeatedly hammered back the Force’s midfield runners and their loose forwards dominated the rucks, twice forcing turnovers that led to tries against the run of play.
The Force’s inability to control the rucks cost them dearly. Their repeated forays came to nothing because the Sharks so successfully slowed the ball at the breakdown that the Force had to commit more players, which adversely affected their attack.
Sharks captain Johann Muller said the senior players had set the tone for the rocks-to-diamonds recovery from the previous weekend’s loss to the Reds in Brisbane.
“We had a meeting and the seniors put up their hands and said they weren’t doing enough,” he revealed.
Matt Giteau put the home team ahead with an early penalty but counterpart Frans Steyn settled for a drop goal after 30 minutes.
The Force turned down another easy penalty when prop Deon Carstens was yellow-carded for a professional offside infringement to disrupt a promising Force raid, opting to go for the try.
But the Sharks defence, as well organised as it was defiant, refused to yield despite the one- man shortfall.
Instead, it was the Sharks who struck three minutes into the second half. The ball went loose, the Force waited for a whistle that did not come and Pietersen set off on an 85m diagonal dash for a try that Rory Kockott could not convert.
Twenty minutes later it happened again. Jacques Botes punished the Force for sloppy work at a ruck and quick passing involving Bismarck du Plessis and Stefan Terblanche allowed Ndungane to sprint for a touchdown under the posts. Kockott converted and the Sharks were in control at 15-3.
Just after the hour, the Sharks made the most of a rare foray into the opposition 22 and screwed a Force defensive scrum to earn the feed.
Steyn advanced the ball and a quick recycle enabled Kockott to burrow over next to the posts to boost the lead to 22-3.
The Force battered away and finally got a reward when Giteau’s inside ball sent Scott Staniforth over untouched but, with only seven minutes left, it mattered little.
The Sharks will play six of their remaining seven games in Durban.
Western Force 10 — Try: Scott Staniforth. Conversion: Matt Giteau. Penalty: Giteau.
Sharks 22 — Tries: JP Pietersen, Odwa Ndungane, Rory Kockott. Conversions: Kockott (2). Drop goal: Frans Steyn.Tweet