The Sharks annihilated the Southern Kings 43-8 in their first Super Rugby match of 2016 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday. The Kings started the match brightly and matched the Sharks in a tightly contested first 40 minutes, but were exposed in the wide areas in the second period, allowing the visitors to run away with a bonus point victory. Chris Cloete opened the scoring in Port Elizabeth, driving over for the home team in the eighth minute to get them off to a fantastic start.
In reply, visiting flyhalf, Joe Pietersen slotted over to set the building foundations for the away team. Three minutes later, the men from Kwazulu-Natal extended their lead when Odwa Ndungane dotted down in the corner after great build-up play and a magical ball over the top from Willie Le Roux. Although the Eastern Cape side levelled matters in the 27th minute through an Elgar Watts penalty, the visitors would have the final say of the half.
In the 31st minute, 20-year-old debutant, Jean-Luc Du Preez rumbled towards the line before stretching to score thanks to great vision from Jacobus Reinach. Despite Pietersen converting the try and handing the Sharks a 15-8 half-time lead, it was the hosts who surprised everyone with their performance in the first stanza, leaving the crowd waiting in anticipation for the second half. At the restart, Deon Davids was hoping for more of the same and a little bit more, however to his disappointment two early second half tries from Gary Gold’s men left the Kings with a mountain to climb.
First, Le Roux got on the score sheet. The former Cheetah’s fullback received a pass from the breakdown and cut through the opposing defence like a hot knife through butter before dotting down to further extend the Sharks’ lead. Paul Jordaan was next to cross the line, showing great pace on the wing after a well orchestrated attack, handing Gold’s men a healthy 29-8 lead.
At the other end, despite great build-up play, Davids’ team lacked composure and were wasteful with their opportunities. In the 59th minute, Lwazi Mvovo benefited from a superb Jordaan offload, allowing him to dot down in the corner. The Sharks were now playing for the bonus point and it was turning into a try fest at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Despite starting brightly, it was a disappointing end to the game for the Kings as Ndungane went over in the corner for his second try and the last of the match to conclude a convincing performance from the Sharks and a 43-8 thrashing.
Southern Kings: S Ferreira, M Ferreira, Botha, Sykes(C), Astle, Cloete, Bholi, Engelbracht, Kebe, Watts, Jaer, Gates, Du Plessis, Vulindlu, Visser. Replacements: Maruttlulle, Sthembiso Sithole, Albertse, Oelofse, Velleman, Eksteen, Fouche, Radebe.
Sharks: Mtawarira, Marais, C Oosthuizen, E Oosthuizen, Andrews, Coetsee, J du Preez, D du Preez, Reinach, Pietersen, Mvovo, Esterhuizen, Jordaan,O Ndungane, Le Roux. Replacements: Cooper, Schoeman, Adriaanse, McDuling, Van Der Walt, Claassens, April, Sibusiso Sithole