The Sharks produced one of their finest performances of the 2018 Super Rugby season as they swatted aside the Highlanders 38-12 in Durban. The visitors, who had upset the Bulls in Pretoria the week before, would’ve fancied their chances against Rob du Preez’s men, but the home side dominated from the word go and were a totally different side from the one that had got mauled by the Bulls before the bye week.
Flyhalf Lima Sopoaga had a poor outing for the Highlanders. He was first beaten to an early box kick by Ruan Botha, which allowed Akker van der Merwe to score in the first minute of the game. For the Sharks next try, he was unable to stop Makazole Mapimpi in a one on one, and when the score was 14-7, he made an error in claiming a high ball that resulted in a scrum to the Sharks, and a subsequent penalty that flyhalf Rob du Preez scored.
Du Preez set up some scintillating tries, with his brothers Jean-Luc and Daniel in equally good knick. The loose forwards’ hands did let them down a bit in the first half, but the offloads stuck in the second, and the Sharks were even able to get a bonus point at the end, something that could help them in what’s becoming a crowded looking SA Conference table.
How important is Tendai Beast Mtawarira to the Sharks?
They tend to look a bit lost without him, and his reassuring presence at scrum time again helped them establish set piece dominance over the Highlanders, whose hopes of winning the NZ conference were dealt a huge blow with this loss.