Johannesburg - Lubabalo Mtembu scored two early tries to help the Sharks XV get their stuttering Vodacom Cup campaign back on course with a 28-18 (halftime 19-7) win over the Eastern Province Kings in a South Section encounter at Mr Price Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
The big number eight scored either side of a Brynard Stander effort with the home side racing into a 19-0 lead at one stage, before Scott van Breda and Darron Nell tries brought the visitors right back into the game.
But they spurned several opportunities at crucial stages in the second half, before slumping to just a second loss of the season.
There was encouraging news for the home side with Springbok forward Tendai Mtawarira coming through the first 55 minutes of rugby this year after cracking a bone in his right ankle during February.
At the start, the hosts took just four minutes to open the scoring and it came via converted try from Mtembu, who was given too much space by the Kings defence on his way over.
The visitors took the better part of 10 minutes to get into the home side’s half, but they wasted the chance to collect any points after playing through a penalty advantage.
At the other end, the Sharks were continuing to tick the scoreboard over, and after Kyle Cooper powerfully burst through two players down the middle, he offloaded to Stander for a simple converted try after 18 minutes.
Mtembu got his second five-pointer when he controlled nicely at the base of a ruck to score in the corner, before the a yellow card for Cobus Reinach left the hosts with 14 just before the break.
The Kings capitalised fully by scoring 15 of their points in that period.
Centre Van Breda crouched low first to scamper in their opening score two minutes before the break and give his side hope.
After the restart, the midfielder added a penalty, before Nell collected a five-metre lineout to score in the corner.
Van Breda missed the conversion and another straightforward penalty that would have put his side in front as the visitors piled on the pressure without any reward for the next 15 minutes.
That allowed the Sharks to regather themselves and with 10 minutes to go, Prinsloo took the lead to seven points with a penalty, although Van Breda cut it back to four straightaway.
But two more successful kicks from Sharks fullback Prinsloo sealed the win.
Sharks XV 28 – Tries: Lubabalo Mtembu (2), Brynard Stander. Conversions: Gouws Prinsloo (2). Penalties: Prinsloo (3).
Eastern Province Kings 18 – Tries: Scott van Breda, Darron Nell. Conversion: Justin van Staden. Penalty: Van Breda (2).