The Sharks won a thrilling encounter in Durban on Saturday, beating the Stormers 12-6 in a typical South African derby.
The game may have been tryless, but it was certainly not devoid of action and drama. If anything, it was entertaining and enthralling.
As Stormers Jean captain said in his post-match reaction, the sweaty and humid conditions made ball control difficult and contributed to both teams kicking more than they wanted to.
The outstanding feature of this game was the brutal nature of the tackles - the Sharks matching the Stormers' renowned defence.
The Sharks' scrum clearly had the edge and won them a number of crucial penalties.
The huge frame of Andries Bekker often made the Sharks' line-out look decidedly ordinary. The Sharks did managed to get their own back, as Bekker and his thrower failed to find each other on occasion. But for most part the visitors dominated this set piece.
Apart from Elton Jantjies, the Stormers struggled to match the Sharks' siege-gun boots in the kicking contest.
It all made for an intriguing contest in which both teams were desperately searching for that match-breaking moment.
That turned out to be a number of second-half penalties by Patrick Lambie, as this arm-wrestle remained in the balance right to the end.
The best try-scoring chance in the first half went to the Stormers - a cross-field kick by Elton Jantjies finding its intended target, Gio Aplon. Unfortunately Aplon failed to hold onto the ball.
The Sharks' first real scoring chance was a penalty about 40 metres out after the Stormers scrum went down in a heap. However, Patrick Lambie pushed his attempt wide.
Throughout the first half it was a real arm-wrestle - with the Stormers' renowned defence a good match for the Sharks' brutal, big runners. It did cost the Stormers a few penalties at the breakdown, but they managed to contain those raids.
The Sharks had their moments on defence and they showed they also posses a few big hitters.
Just after the half-hour mark Francois Steyn had a shot at goal from almost 60 metres out, but he was well short.
And it stayed scoreless right to the half-time break, even though the tempers started to fray in the latter parts of the opening stanza.
Lambie eventually opened the scoring, a penalty two minutes into the second half, after the Stormers were penalised for offside at a high kick near their own 22.
Joe Pietersen levelled matters three minutes later, after the Sharks had used illegal tactics to stop a rampaging Stormers maul.
Lambie regained the lead in the 52nd minute, after a series of Sharks raids forced the Stormers into conceding a penalty to avoid a try, and then stretched the lead further three minutes later when Steven Kitshoff was penalised when he failed to retreat quickly enough - 9-3.
Pietersen continued the ding-dong battle, making it 6-9 after 58 minutes - when Louis Ludik was penalised at the breakdown.
The followed a line-out penalty against the Stormers, soon after the restart, and Lambie restored his team's six-point lead - 12-6.
The Stormers, try as they might, failed to find that hole in the Sharks' wall and they left Durban with a losing bonus point.
Man of the match: Andries Bekker had his usual flashes of aggression, but unfortunately those were mixed with periods of simply lumbering out wide when his team needed him closer to the action. Duane Vermeulen produced another physical and energetic performance. Deon Fourie, when he wasn't arguing with the referee, was a real menace at the breakdown and had a couple of handy runs. For most part Elton Jantjies' tactical kicking was outstanding in its execution and pin-point in its accuracy. However, the rest of his game didn't always live up to the expected standards. Frans Steyn had a few strong runs, knocked couple of opponents back on defence and kicked the ball a proverbial mile. Paul Jordaan and Louis Ludik had their moments. Jean Deysel was at his most brutal best - both on defence and with the ball in hand. And he won a couple of crucial turnovers to come to the rescue of his team. Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach again put his hand up for national recognition with a classy performance, which included a couple steals at the breakdown. He came close. However, our award goes to Tendai Mtawarira, who was at his most Beastly Best in the scrums - winning a number of penalties - not to mention his powerful carries and solid defence.
For the Sharks:
Pens: Lambie 4
For the Stormers:
Pens: Pietersen 2
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Francois Steyn (captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Don Armand, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Peter Grant, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
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