Sharks are on a roll
They were the form South African team in Super Rugby in the last two months of the Sanzar regional season and now it looks like the Sharks are carrying that momentum into the domestic competition.
The Durbanites had arguably the toughest start to the Absa Currie Cup this year as they had to travel to Cape Town to play Western Province just one week after the bulk of the squad had just returned from the Super Rugby final in New Zealand before hosting the champions, the Lions, at Mr Price Kings Park.
Against WP it might be argued that the home team conspired against themselves to some extent and the win was down to sheer determination from the Sharks, but the comprehensive destruction of the MTN Lions this past weekend was just the product of some quite outstanding rugby.
The Lions, clearly smarting from the decision to relegate them from Super Rugby next year, showed early intent against the Sharks, who they have had the wood over for the past 12 months. But once the Sharks got their attacking game together, and with skipper Jean Deysel being such a colossal presence in taking his side across the gainline, there was always going to be only one winner.
It leaves the Sharks sitting pretty at the top of the log, and in a season where there are just six teams competing and four of them go through to the semifinal, that is quite a comfortable place to be.
Comfort was not something WP would have felt after the first quarter of their game against Griquas in Kimberley. They trailed 12-0 at that stage after two well taken tries to the home side. But the hosts were playing with a strong wind behind them, and in the second half the WP forward superiority took its toll.
Flyhalf Demetri Catrikilis showed what Province will be missing when he links up with the Southern Kings next year by ensuring that the game was played in the right areas of the field in that second half, but it was the intent shown with ball in hand that would have most impressed both the WP coaches and those supporters who have been decrying their team’s lack of four try bonus points.
There wasn’t a bonus point on offer in this game, they did well just to come back and win it, but they will go to Johannesburg this week for the clash with the Lions with renewed confidence, particularly as they are set to benefit from the return of Siya Kolisi and Juan de Jongh, who have been released from Springbok duty.
With Duane Vermeulen showing no ill effects from his long injury lay-off, the WP loose-forward stocks have suddenly been swelled significantly, and they will be able to start against the Lions with both Kolisi and Vermeulen in the back row.
The other winning team this past weekend was the Free State Cheetahs, who beat the Bulls on Friday night.
WEEKEND RESULTS (home teams first)
Toyota Free State Cheetahs 32 Vodacom Blue Bulls 18
GWK Griquas 20 DHL Western Province 25
Sharks 30 MTN Golden Lions 14