The Sharks surged to the top of the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division table after beating defending champions the MTN Golden Lions 30-14 in Durban on Saturday night to exact revenge for their loss to the men from Johannesburg in last year's final.
The Sharks are the only unbeaten team remaining in the new-look six team competition and have eight points from their two matches. The Lions, despite their loss, remain second on the log thanks to their fine opening-weekend victory over the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.
DHL Western Province move into third place following their 25-20 win over GWK Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon, a result that leaves the men from Kimberley winless after two rounds and propping up the table.
And in the weekend's first match, played in Bloemfontein on Friday night, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs beat the Vodacom Blue Bulls 32-18 to pick up their first win of the competition and slot into fifth place on the table, just behind the Bulls on points difference.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs (23) 32 Vodacom Blue Bulls (10) 18
Right wing Riaan Smit succeeded with all seven of his kicks at goal, nailing five penalties and two conversions, as the Cheetahs went some way to erasing memories of the 43-20 loss they had suffered at the hands of the MTN Lions in their opening fixture of the season.
The Cheetahs made an electric start to the match when they grabbed a try within 45 seconds of kick-off after the Blue Bulls tried to bash the ball up and conceded a turnover. The hosts shifted the ball to the left and lock Andries Ferreira managed to stretch out and score in the tackle.
Blue Bulls flyhalf Louis Fouche and Smit traded penalties but, with 10 minutes left in the half the visitors finally got a try of their own through eighthman CJ Stander.
Fouche kicked the conversion but the rest of the half belonged to the Cheetahs thanks to Smit’s third penalty before No 8 Kabamba Floors grabbed a try two minutes after the hooter had sounded.
Fouche and Smit traded further penalties soon after the restart but the Cheetahs were starting to win the battle at the breakdown while their smothering defence was proving frustrating for the Blue Bulls as a number of their attacking forays were snuffed out.
But with seven minutes left in the match the Blue Bulls finally breached the Cheetahs' defence when Stander strolled over in the right-hand corner for his second try before replacement back Nico Scheepers kicked a late penalty for the hosts.
Cheetahs – Tries: Kabamba Floors, Andries Ferreira. Conversions: Riaan Smit (2). Penalties: Smit (5), Nico Scheepers.
Blue Bulls – Tries: CJ Stander (2). Conversion: Louis Fouche. Penalties: Fouche (2).
GWK Griquas (12) 20 DHL Western Province (7) 25
Prop Steven Kitshoff scored the decisive try with 14 minutes to play as DHL Western Province came from behind to oust GWK Griquas at GWK Park.
In doing so the Cape side overcame a wretched start to the game in gusty conditions with early tries by Rynard Landman and Wilmaure Louw putting the host 12-0 ahead.
But Ederies Arendse scored in the dying minutes of the half, before JP du Plessis and Kitshoff completed the turnaround, which gave Allister Coetzee’s side a first win of the season.
But it would not have been the script they wanted after being given an almighty scare by the plucky home side. They began like a house on fire and went ahead in just the seventh minute after a flowing move down the left saw lock Landman collect a quick pass from winger Rocco Jansen on the left and power his way over.
Fullback Francois Brummer missed the conversion, but five minutes later the lead was doubled when wing Louw dived over on the right for a converted score after Stefan Watermeyer had initially set up the move with a strong carry down the middle.
The possession stakes read 73%-27% in favour of the hosts after 25 minutes and they continued to dominate until the final minute of the half when Arendse ran 35 metres to score, the try coming as a result of a brilliant Marcel Brache off-load on the left.
It was a real blow to the Griquas cause, but to their credit, they hit back via a Brummer penalty straight after the interval.
With the clock fast running down, Kitshoff scored the decisive try when he collected in the centre and ran through a gap to score under the posts.
Griquas – Tries: Wilmaure Louw, Rynard Landman, Jaco Nepgen. Conversion: Francois Brummer. Penalty: Brummer.
WP – Tries: Steven Kitshoff, JP du Plessis, Ederies Arendse. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2). Penalties: Catrakilis (2).
Sharks (6) 30 MTN Golden Lions (7) 14
The Sharks, led by a faultless kicking display from centre Meyer Bosman, beat defending champions the MTN Golden Lions to move to the top of the table and establish themselves as early favourites for the title.
Bosman slotted three penalties and three conversions as the Sharks turned around a one-point half-time deficit to record their second win of the competition in as many games. However, they missed out on a bonus point after only managing three tries but will nonetheless be happy with the win.
The Lions, after whipping the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in their opening game, promised much in the early exchanges but the Sharks were eventually too good for them on the night.
The Sharks were the first to register points when Lions flanker Josh Strauss was penalised for a high tackle. Bosman made no mistake with the kick.
The Lions then made their dominance count when they were awarded a penalty try as the Sharks succumbed to severe scrum pressure on their tryline once too often for referee Mark Lawrence’s liking. Flyhalf Butch James slotted the straight-forward conversion.
Bosman kicked a penalty minutes later to narrow the difference to one point and the Lions were set back on the stroke of halftime when lock Hendrik Roodt was sin-binned for a professional foul.
With Roodt doing time on the sidelines, the Sharks wrested the momentum from the Lions and they took the lead for the first time in the game when Bosman added another penalty.
They went even further ahead before Roodt’s return when they put the ball through a number of hands for left wing S’bura Sithole to show a good turn of pace and outstrip the Lions’ defence out wide to score in the corner.
The Lions were even more on the back foot when right wing Odwa Ndungane went over, but the visitors bounced back when flanker Cobus Grobbelaar powered over.
But Sharks captain Jean Deysel showed just how strong he is with ball in hand when he dragged a number of defenders over the tryline to put the matter beyond doubt.
Sharks – Tries: Sibusiso Sithole, Odwa Ndungane, Jean Deysel. Conversions: Meyer Bosman (3). Penalties: Bosman (3).
Lions – Tries: Cobus Grobbelaar, penalty try. Conversions: Butch James (2).