The Sharks took 50 minutes to turn from fish into apex predators, but a strong finish to their United Rugby Championship match saw them hammer the Glasgow Warriors 40-12 at Kings Park on Saturday.
The Sharks led 13-7 at halftime, but it had been an arm-wrestle for the home side, and it looked like Glasgow would push them to the final whistle when the Warriors scored three minutes into the second half. In a horror start after the break, the Sharks conceded consecutive ruck penalties and then missed the contest at the five-metre lineout, allowing a relatively easy maul try for the visitors, flank Thomas Gordon dotting down for the second time.
But the Glasgow defence was relatively slow to get off the line and the Sharks began finding the gaps as they cut down on the handling errors, and the fluency of their attack started to become apparent. It started in the 52nd minute with a well-worked try, slick hands by replacement prop Ox Nche, flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain and fullback Aphelele Fassi sent wing Anthony Volmink finning down the touchline for the Sharks’ second try.
Volmink had scored the first, in the 33rd minute, when Chamberlain burst through on a wrap-around move and sent the speedy wing racing away.
The Sharks had struggled to get their maul going, partly because Glasgow were allowed to swim up the side, but they got around that by changing the contact point in the 63rd minute and replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi powered over for the try.
Neat interplay between forwards and backs then saw Fassi knife through and score to clinch the bonus point with 11 minutes remaining, before the Sharks rounded off the win with Chamberlain producing a precise crosskick for right wing Werner Kok to run on to and score.
Lock Eben Etzebeth, on Sharks debut, was a deserved man of the match, carrying the ball strongly and ruling the lineouts, making some crucial steals.
The Sharks are clearly a dangerous side when they get their attacking momentum going, but they will be disappointed in a first half where they made too many mistakes.
Defensive lapses are also a worrying feature and, having dominated the opening stages and taken a 3-0 lead through a Chamberlain penalty, the Sharks then allowed Glasgow an easy score as Gordon picked the ball up at a ruck and roared away as there was no pillar defence, sidestepping Fassi for the opening try.
Battling to get return from the maul, the Sharks struggled to break down a Glasgow defence who are canny and attack the breakdown hard.
The Sharks will be disappointed they didn’t get more from the referee, but they took matters into their own hands in the second half by just increasing their accuracy, to great effect.
Sharks – Tries: Anthony Volmink (2), Bongi Mbonambi, Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok. Conversions: Boeta Chamberlain (3). Penalties: Chamberlain (3).
Glasgow Warriors – Tries: Thomas Gordon (2). Conversion: Tom Jordan.