Johannesburg - The Sharks opened their Vodacom Cup campaign with a comprehensive 46-24 victory over the Border Bulldogs on at Buffalo City Stadium in East London Friday night.
Fred Zeilinga's educated boot proved the real difference between the two sides and although the Border team were ahead 17-10 at the break, and then 24-10 up after five minutes into the second half, a further five tries from the visitors sealed matters and the Sharks won comfortably.
Zeilinga kicked two penalties and converted five of the Sharks' six tries for a personal tally of 16 points and showed his class throughout.
The Sharks got the scoreboard moving when their tall scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer, spotting a gap, left a trail of Border defenders in his wake and dotted over for Zeilinga to convert.
Then a smart grubber-kick by Border scrumhalf Skhangele Mateza well within the Sharks half resulted in an assault by the Border forwards and lock Wandile Putuma, who had an excellent game for the home team, crashed over for centre Jeffrey Taljard to convert and level the score after 24 minutes.
Just before the break, Taljard and Zeilinga exchanged penalties.
The second half started sensationally and quite against the run of play Border were off the mark when centre Makazole Mapimpi intercepted and dived over for Taljard to convert.
However, the Sharks succeeded in keeping the home team camped in their own half with few forays into enemy territory.
The visitors, seizing all their chances, ran in a further five tries, with Zeilinga being successful with four of the conversions as well as a penalty kick two minutes before the final whistle.
Sharks (46): Tries: Stefan Ungerer, Edwin Hewitt, Neil Maritz, Thomas du Toit, Wiehan Herbst, Andre Esterhuizen. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (5). Penalties: Zeilinga (2).
Border Bulldogs (24): Tries: Wandile Putuma, Lolo Waka, Makazole Mapimpi. Conversions: Jeffrey Taljard (3). Penalty: Taljard.