Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree has lauded the impact Springbok prop Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira has had since returning from injury last week.
The Sharks produced their best performance of the Super Rugby season thus far when they blew away the Force 53-11 in Durban on Saturday.
The hosts were especially impressive at the line-outs, an area in which they had struggled all season, as well as their scrums.
And Plumtree felt Mtawarira, especially, was key in those aspects.
The Bok prop had been out since January when he broke his right ankle.
"When you see a guy come back and being so up for it (it’s a huge boost)," said Plumtree.
"He's come back three weeks ahead of his due date and the confidence he’s giving the other players is just great.
"You need players of influence in your team and he's one of those guys.
"You can see Bismarck (du Plessis), Jannie (du Plessis), are starting to perform really well now.
"The loosies are going good, Anton Bresler’s playing really nicely and so is Sykes."
The Sharks ran in seven tries as they romped to victory over the Australian strugglers.
Springbok winger Lwazi Mvovo scored twice from two splendid breakaways, while Steven Sykes, Paul Jordaan, Louis Ludik, Craig Burden and Jacques Botes also crossed the line.
The win moved the Sharks into the final playoff spot, in sixth place on the overall standings.
"The boys waited for that opportunity to turn them over after the start they made," Plumtree said.
"We talked all week about being patient in attack and being patient defensively because we knew that they kept the ball for long periods of time."
However, they had to bide their time early on after leading 20-6 at the break, with the Force defending well while threatening to score themselves.
"We knew we would have to choose our moments, once or twice we got it wrong, but generally I was really pleased," Plumtree said.
"All in all, it was a pretty efficient win."
The coastal side are now well placed to push on for a place in the top six, ahead of local derbies in the next three weeks, starting with the Cheetahs next Saturday.
They are followed by clashes against the Stormers and the Lions.
"You have to be in the top six at the end and we’re there now, but obviously there’s lots of rugby left," he added.
"So it’s just a case of keep building.
"We know what a huge game we’ve got coming up in Bloemfontein and then two huge derbies coming up after that so the ante goes up big time now."