Sharks glide past Pumas in Currie Cup opener
The Sharks got their Currie Cup campaign underway when they powered to a 45-10 win over the Pumas at Kings Park on Friday.
Although they came into the game a little short of a gallop after their final Super Rugby Unlocked clash against the Stormers was cancelled, the result was never really in doubt and the hosts asserted themselves from the outset against a team that had 11 players missing through injury and other ailments.
The Sharks' pack was dominant as their sheer size helped get the job done.
The out-sized JJ van der Mescht was moved to flank and the extra bulk enabled the Sharks to exact a physical toll on the Pumas. They were particularly potent from their line-out drives with three first half tries coming as a direct result of their ability to beat the Pumas pack into retreat.
The Pumas hardly aided their own cause. Elementary errors undermined their efforts while they at times exercised options that were frankly suicidal.
By the eighth minute the Sharks had the lead when centre Jeremy Ward scored after charging down Devon Williams' attempted clearance.
Following a good line-out drive scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba scythed through for his third Currie Cup try. His diagonal run simply caught the Pumas napping.
Ward scored his second when some poor decision-making and execution saw the visitors caught in possession inside their own goal area. Instead of opting for a clearance kick they flung the ball in the hope of running themselves out of trouble. Ward pounced after making the crucial in goal tackle.
Further tries by Kerron van Vuuren and Dylan Richardson helped advance the Sharks into a 31-3 lead at the break.
The hosts, however, loosened their grip in the second half but they still produced some moments of individual brilliance like when replacement wing S'bu Nkosi tipped the ball from the Pumas' grasp for a second half try. He punished them again later in the half when he ran onto a loose Pumas' pass for an intercept try.
Despite playing with less control in the second half the Sharks will be more than content with their efforts in their Currie Cup opener.