The Sharks kept their composure against a desperate Pumas team who fought incredibly hard but ultimately came up short, losing 33-20 to the defending Currie Cup champions in Durban on Saturday.
The Pumas were on the scoreboard early on thanks to a long-range penalty from inside centre Tiaan Marx and they continued to apply pressure on the home side in a spirited first-half performance.
The Sharks hit back with a try to physical hooker Craig Burden who forced his way over the line from close quarters, but two converted tries from Pumas flyhalf Coenie van Wyk gave the visitors a 17-14 lead at the break.
His first five-pointer came after big lock Marius Coetzer burst throught the Sharks defensive line and Van Wyk was on hand to run it over the line. The flyhalf got on the scoreboard again when he made an interception in his own half and raced upfield to put his team in a commanding position.
The Durban side hit back just before the break when big loose forward Jean Deysel took advantage of some weak tackling to power his way over in the corner. The conversion from Frederic Michalak made it 17-14 to the Pumas at half-time and the Men from Mpumalanga would have been hopeful of kicking on to record their first victory this season.
However, the defending champions showed their class in the second half and ran away with it as two tries from veteran flank Jacques Botes and another by replacement lock Anton Bresler secured the victory and an all-important bonus point.
The pumas could only manage three points in a disappointing second-half display and they will be particularly frustrated with the fact that they could not even win a losing bonus point after leading for long periods.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Burden, Deysel, Botes 2, Bresler
Cons: Michalak 4
For the Pumas:
Tries: Van Wyk 2
Cons: Van Wyk 2
Pens: Marx, Van Wyk
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Sibusiso Sithole, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Conrad Hoffmann, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jean Deysel, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Alistair Hargreaves, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Adrian Jacobs.
Pumas: 15 MJ Mentz, 14 Deon Scholtz, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Tiaan Marx, 11 Wilhelm Looch, 10 Coenie van Wyk, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Christo le Roux, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Rudi Matthee, 3 Ashley Buys, 2 Marthinus van der Westhuizen, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Brett Nel, 18 Willem Serfontein, 19 JP Mostert, 20 Hendrik van der Nest, 21 Siviwe Magaba, 22 Johan Jackson.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
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