Inevitable Sharks beat Sunwolves
For once, a Sharks win was inevitable. It was always going to be a matter of how they went about beating the Sunwolves.
The effort and endeavour displayed was enough to procure the first win after three matches but whether they'll marry those virtues with panache and finesse remains to be seen.
They gained the expected five points but it wasn't a performance to scare the Australasian sides they'll be facing over the coming four weeks.
If there's a team they may fancy beating, it's the Brumbies whom they face first up in Canberra on Saturday.
Then again, the Brumbies could be due a win after two consecutive losses against the Reds (18-10) and the Rebels (33-10).
Maybe the clash between the 2001 finalists will provide an accurate illustration of where the sides are. However, the Sharks are notorious for either finding form or falling apart completely on tour.
They'll hope for the former as the Rebels are a formidable unit while wins in New Zealand, where they'll be facing the Blues and the Hurricanes, are scarcer than fresh water in Cape Town.
The Sunwolves are lesser opposition but the passes that didn't stick for the Sharks in last week's turgid outing against the Waratahs went to hand.
Tries from Makazole Mapimpi (ninth), Akker van der Merwe (29th) and Lubabalo “Tera” Mtembu (36th) gave the Sharks a commanding half-time lead.
Mtembu's try contained the excellence of multi-phase play execution absent against the Waratahs while the earlier touch-downs exploited the Sunwolves' defensive and physical frailties.
The Sharks were fortunate not to concede an early second half try when Harumichi Tatekawa's 42nd minute effort was flagged for obstruction.
Lemeki Lomano ensured the hard work wasn't wasted when he crossed in the right-hand corner three minutes later.
Three minutes later, finisher-par-excellence Mapimpi was given a sniff of a gap on the left-hand touchline from unstructured play and swiftly cantered over the line to extend the lead.
Flanker Jacques Vermeulen rounded off a superb 55th minute try that showcased the Sharks' multi-phase play at its best.
The Sunwolves weren't keen on giving in and responded through Wimpie van der Walt five minutes later.
The hosts had more class and this was apparent through S'busiso Nkosi's 67th minute try where the Sharks had three support runners chasing Curwin Bosch's punt. Cameron Wright's 75th try from a strong Sharks scrum confirmed the hosts' dominance but William Tupou's response three minutes later earned the visitors some deserved scoreboard respect.
Tries: Makazole Mapimpi (2), Akker van der Merwe, Lubabalo Mtembu, Jacques Vermeulen, S'busiso Nkosi, Cameron Wright
Conversions: Robert du Preez (5), Curwin Bosch
Penalty: Du Preez
Tries: Lemeki Lomano, Wimpie van der Walt, William Tupou,
Conversions: Kotaro Matsushima, Ryoto Nakamura
Penalty: Harumichi Tatekawa