The Sharks performance against the Blues in Durban on Saturday was one that left an air of excitement in the Shark Tank and rightly so. The speed at which the Sharks played the game in the first 40 and the tenacity they showed in the second whilst defending are all huge positives.
The Sharks beat the Blues 26-7, a score that was unexpected after the Blues strong showing against the Crusaders only a week earlier. In a game played in the strong Durban heat and with humidity making the ball more like a bar of soap, the Sharks seemed un-phased as they launched many a dangerous counter attack.
The performance of the Sharks forwards was sublime with Akker Van der Merwe leading the charge, whilst both front row counterparts, Beast and Coenie also made a telling impact and gave great go forward ball. Beast almost crossing the try line himself.
The Blues came out firing in the second half and showed the typical pace and creativity the world has come to expect from a kiwi side at any level. Perhaps the most telling thing from this game was that in the face of that the Sharks defended like men possessed, with Jacques Vermeulen making a critical steal close to the line to help stay the momentum.
The Sharks were unwilling to give an inch and Lukhanyo Am in the dying minutes made a huge hit on the Blues Flyhalf sending the ball to a flying Curwin Bosch who ran the length of the field to secure the home side a valuable bonus point win capping of a well rounded performance from the home side.
Special mention definitely needs to be given to the way the Sharks are willing to run the ball at the moment. Seemingly breaking the contact orientated game plan most South African sides tend to favor. Such an approach seems to be working as the Sharks have now bagged a full set of points in both of their matches in the competition thus far.
This Sharks side looks like it is set for big things in 2019 and it will be interesting to see them face the other strong sides from New Zealand, to see just how far they will go this year. They definitely look like title contenders at the moment.
Written by: Nicholas Halsey
Image credit: Biogen