Fans who made the trip down to Kings Park on Saturday afternoon would have left happy, after the Sharks broke the shackles that had been holding them back all year in recording a rousing 53-11 win over the hapless Western Force.
An error-strewn first half saw neither side really put their best foot forward, although despite the mistakes that were being made by the home side in many facets of play, they were clearly the superior outfit on the day. Two first-half tries, one bye Steven Sykes and the other a lovely first-ever Super Rugby score by centre Paul Jordaan, saw the Sharks lead 20-6 at the break, despite never really finding their rhythm. More worryingly, though flyhalf Pat Lambie took a heavy knock around the half-hour mark and while he recovered well enough to make the break that set up Jordaan’s try, he didn’t come out at all in the second half.
Lambie’s understudy, Fred Michalak, had one of his good days, though and directed matters pretty well as the Sharks cut loose in the second half. Based on a strong tight five platform, the Sharks simply overwhelmed the Force after half time; Louis Ludik scored a minute into the half, followed almost unbelievably quickly by two intercept tries by Lwazi Mvovo within the space of just five minutes. With the resolve and spirit of the visitors now truly broken, the Sharks used the opportunity to bring on the bulk of their bench and continued to keep the scoreboard ticking inexorably toward – and then past – the half century, with Craig Burden and Jacques Botes adding the sixth and seventh tries.
A controversial late score, after the television match official seemed to ignore clear evidence of a foot in touch, was all the Force had to show on a day when they looked under-prepared, uncoached and frankly outclassed from start to finish. For the Sharks, though, this performance will do wonders. It was far from perfect, of course, but the team played as well as they needed to against pretty ordinary opposition and for the first time in living memory, actually put an inferior team to the sword, rather than allowing their out-muscled opposition back into the contest. That fact alone will do wonders for the confidence and perhaps even convince a few pundits to have another look at the Sharks in this competition, who have now managed to claw their way into the top 6 and have their sights set on climbing higher than that over the next few weeks.
Sharks (53) – Tries: Steven Sykes, Paul Jordaan, Lwazi Mvovo(2), Craig Burden, Jacques Botes. Conversions: Patrick Lambie (2), Frederic Michalak (3). Penalties: Patrick Lambie (3).
Force (11) – Try: Sam Wara. Penalty: David Harvey (2).Tweet