Cape Town - The Sharks opened their Currie Cup campaign on a positive note with a 26-10 victory over the Blue Bulls at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
As it happened: Sharks v Blue Bulls
Tries from Juan Schoeman, Kobus van Wyk, Aphelele Fassi and Curwin Bosch proved too much for the visitors who scored through Jesse Kriel's converted try and a Manie Libbok penalty.
With more experience and no less than six Springboks in the side, the Sharks had too much firepower for the men from Pretoria on the day.
The first try came from a Sharks' five-metre attacking scrum after Jamba Ulengo had knocked on chasing back to retrieve Bosch's kick and chase. From the resulting set-piece, the ball was taken through a couple of phases before Schoeman powered over from close range. Robert du Preez added the extras for a 7-0 lead on six minutes.
The Bulls began to assert their dominance on the tie and hit back through a try in the 15th minute. After superb interplay between backs and forwards, Thembelani Bholi sent a looping pass over the top for Ulengo on the overlap, who was halted inches short. The ball was quickly recycled to Kriel, who showed good strength to muscle his way over.
However, six minutes later the home side would regain the lead from a move that started from a turnover on their own try-line. Louis Schreuder made the clean break and just when it looked as if he had run out of options, he swivelled and found the onrushing Bosch, who showed excellent turn of pace to scythe through and under the posts for a scintillating team try.
Great hands by the Sharks backs saw Van Wyk released down the right-hand flank before the winger stepped inside Andre Warner and Ulengo to complete a clinical finish. Du Preez slotted the conversion to take the home side out to a 21-10 lead as the sides headed into the interval.
Soon after, a Wright up and under again bamboozled the Bulls defence, with replacement winger Fassi pouncing on the loose ball and tearing away over the whitewash, scoring with his first touch of the ball as the hosts extended their lead to 26-10 with 15 minutes to go.
Despite having more opportunities to make the scoreline more flattering, the Sharks were unable to extend their lead as no further points were scored in the last quarter of an hour.
In next weekend's Round 3 action, the Blue Bulls welcome the Golden Lions to Pretoria (Saturday, September 1 at 15:0), while the Sharks travel to Bloemfontein to play the Cheetahs (Saturday, September 1 at 17:15).
Tries: Juan Schoeman, Curwin Bosch, Kobus van Wyk, Aphelele Fassi
Conversions: Robert du Preez (3)
Try: Jesse Kriel
Conversion: Manie Libbok
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Wian Vosloo, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle (captain), 1 Juan Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Khutha Mchunu, 18 Andrew Evans, 19 Tera Mtembu, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Johan Deysel, 22 Aphelele Fassi
15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Hendre Stassen, 3 Conrad van Vuuren, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Matthys Basson
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Eli Snyman, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Raegan Orange, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 JT Jackson