Durban - Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson has revelled in their 'best performance of the season' after thrashing the Free State Cheetahs to climb top of the Currie Cup table in Durban on Saturday.
The coastal side ran in seven tries to two, including a double from Springbok wing Lwazi Mvovo, on their way to a comprehensive 50-26 bonus-point win.
“I think the players were fantastic today,” Macleod-Henderson said.
“In no way did I expect to score 50 points against a quality outfit like Free State.
“We played for the full 80 minutes on both attack and defence and the guys were just awesome.”
It was the biggest win of the new Sharks era under director of rugby Brendan Venter, along with coaches Macleod-Henderson and Sean Everitt.
The KwaZulu-Natal side had struggled to assert their dominance in some of their previous games due to poor starts and the conceding of early points, although that was far different on Saturday.
“We’ve had a look at the scenario and it was almost a case of making one or two silly errors early on in games, allowing opposition in for relatively easy scores.
“We knew if we sorted that out we’ll be alright and today, right from the word go we were up for the game.
“The guys took the game to Free State, we played in the right areas on the field, we took our opportunities and that told on the scoreboard.”
Apart from Mvovo, SP Marais, Heimar Williams, Tim Whitehead, Keegan Daniel and Cobus Reinach all crossed as the Sharks moved to 24 points alongside Western Province, albeit top on points difference.
“The competition is so tight that on any day any team can beat anyone, we’re seeing that every week.
“Next week we’ve got another tough game and we’ll have to be up for the challenge when we go up to Johannesburg.”
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske, whose side slipped one position from third to fourth, conceded that they just 'didn’t pitch up' at Kings Park.
“We started poorly by giving away two soft tries and once you have to play catch-up rugby from there, especially away from home, it’s always going to be tough,” Drotske said.
“But credit to the Sharks, they were really physical on defence and they really gave us a lot of problems at the breakdown. They were full value for the win.”
He was also disappointed with their own defending and hoped it was just a one-off blip from his side.
“To concede seven tries wasn’t up to scratch, especially for a side that had conceded the least number of tries in the competition before this.
“So we need to work on that. I’m still confident we will make the play-offs.
“We have three games to go, two in Bloemfontein and one in Kimberley. Once you get into the play-offs anything can happen.”