The Sharks scored 11 tries en route to a 71-8 win over the Leopards in their first pre-season warm-up match in Pietermaritzburg on Friday.
On a cool, wet and windy evening at Woodburn Stadium, the Sharks were simply too good, too fast and too strong for a game, but outplayed Leopards’ side that tried, but could not match their Super Rugby opponents.
From start to end, the Sharks were in no charitable mood and delivered a resounding display of incisive attacking rugby that kept their fans in raptures at a sold-out Woodburn Stadium.
Quickly recycled ball resulted in a good first try to the Sharks inside the opening 10 minutes. It was well-executed and reward for some innovative play, thanks to the initial linebreak from captain Frans Steyn who powered through the defence, eventually resulting in Pat Lambie selling a dummy and cruising through.
Jacques Botes added the second not much later with Tera Mtembu making the initial break that led to an easy touchdown, the big eighthman doing well to offload in the gang tackle.
It was clear that the Sharks’ high intensity game and quick handling was proving dangerous and difficult to stop; building up a nice head of steam, they had three converted tries in the bag by the time the first water break came on the 20-minute mark.
The Sharks have done a lot of preparation and there were many pleasing aspects out of their game, with the regular tries clearly the most agreeable.
The Leopards managed to get points on the board, a penalty from right in front to flyhalf Johnny Welthagen, but that was all they could muster against a rampant Sharks side who added a further two penalties (and came close to a third in the final play of the half), taking a handy 31-3 lead into the half-time break.
The second half started well with Louis Ludik - amongst a raft of changes introduced - hitting the line well, feeding Odwa Ndungane who sucked in defenders and Jean Deysel managed to twist his way over and score.
The Sharks weren’t quite as fluid as they had been in the first half, as to be expected with numerous changes, but they managed to add a second try, Steyn bulldozing over under the posts.
A couple of Sharks players left the field sporting bumps, which didn’t stop the momentum, Botes managing to power his way over for his second try and his team’s eighth after three-quarters of the game.
The Sharks didn’t let up the pressure and the exciting running rugby, the customary style that fans have embraced, continued to pay dividends as they eventually managed to score 11 tries in total.
Tries: Lambie, Botes 2, Ndungane, Mtembu 2, Mvovo 2, Deysel, Steyn, Dell
Cons: Lambie 5, Bosman 3
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ngungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Fracois Steyn (captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pieter-Steph Du Toit, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Meyer Bosman, 23 Paul Jordaan, 24 Louis Ludik.
Leopards: 15 Heindrich Smit, 14 Andrew van Wyk, 13 Charl Weideman, 12 Adriaan Engelbrecht, 11 Edmar Marais, 10 Johnny Welthagen, 9 Jaco Grobler, 8 James Meecham, 7 Robert Kruger, 6 Arno Nel, 5 Brencon Snyman (captain), 4 Peet van der Walt, 3 Stephan Bezuidenhout, 2 Chris Conraad, 1 Ian Gregorowski.
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Stefan Schoeman, 18 Elardus Venter, 19 James Marx, 20 Danie Jordaan, 21 Malherbe Swart, 22 Jacques Olivier, 23 Ian Heyns, 24Warren Gilbert, 25 Blikkies Loots.
Friday, Febraury 8
Venue: Woodburn Stadium, Pietermaritzburg
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry