Sport / Rugby

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
16 Feb 2019
2:56 pm

Rounded Sharks make big early statement

Heinz Schenk

Robert du Preez's troops recover from a shaky start to engineer a fine victory over the Sunwolves.

Sharks' player Akker van der Merwe (C) runs with the ball during the Super Rugby match between the Sharks of South Africa and the Sunwolves of Japan in Singapore on February 16, 2019. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP)

The Sharks made a big statement from the outset of this new Super Rugby campaign with a superb 45-10 demolition of the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday.

It was close to a complete from the Durbanites, who combined robust forward play with some clinical backline play.

They scored six tries for a bonus point and looked every bit as slick and settled as they can be.

Who was the star in this match?

There were numerous heroes in this performance and at least have a dozen could stake a claim for this accolade. However, it was the reliable and underrated Tyler Paul who had a massive, if subtle influence on proceedings. The blindsider was immense as a ball-carrier, tackled with vigour and helped out at the lineouts with four grabs.

Key moments and themes

  • The Sharks arguably laid the foundation of this victory through the way they responded to the Sunwolves’ early, counter-attacking try. Shortly afterwards, they built phases, forced a penalty and then launched a ruthless maul that was rounded off by Akker van der Merwe. It wasn’t pretty, but it illustrated that the Durbanites are still willing to do the basics well when needed.
  • Thereafter, the Sharks showed off their intention of being a more attacking outfit by capitalising superbly on their scoring opportunities. A feature was the variety on show. Van der Merwe (again) and Dan du Preez both went over the whitewash after solid forward play, while the Bok wing pair of S’bu Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi were beneficiaries of sumptuous backline play.
  • National coach Rassie Erasmus will be very pleased with the performances of two potential bolters in the front-row, Beast Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuizen. The former carried well and anchored the scrum, while the latter was influential on defence and forced a turnover too.
  • The already widely criticised Sunwolves concept is under further pressure after this thrashing. Only on Japanese-born player, Kaito Shingeno, was included in the starting XV. What is the point of this team when it’s not promoting local players?

Point scorers:

Sharks – Tries: Akker van der Merwe (2), Dan du Preez, S’bu Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi, Jeremy Ward. Conversions: Robert du Preez (5), Rhyno Smith. Penalty: Du Preez.

Sunwolves – Try: Shane Gates. Conversion: Hayden Parker. Penalty: Parker.

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