The Sharks registered a rewarding 29-7 bonus point win against Benetton at Stadio Monigo in Treviso on Saturday, outscoring the hosts four tries to one in a morale-boosting performance in the north versus south showpiece.
The Sharks broke away in the first half scoring three tries by Ruben van Heerden (lock), Aphelele Fassi (fullback) and Phepsi Buthelezi (No 8) and they backed this up with solid defence which saw them enter the break with an encouraging 21-0 lead.
The second half was tighter, which saw each of the teams cross the tryline only once, while the Sharks also kicked a penalty goal to secure the convincing victory.
Van Heerden crashed over in the sixth minute from some good forward play and a well-timed pick-and-go and Curwin Bosch (flyhalf) slotted the conversion to hand the side a 7-0 lead.
Benetton hit back with some good attacking play in the 17th minute, but the Sharks held their own on defence and won a penalty and they built on this with some exciting attacking play, and the rewards followed with Aphelele Fassi (fullback) scoring the second try in 25th min after the ball was spread out wide. He showed his skill to side-step a defender, which handed them a 14-0 lead.
The visitors added their third try in the 40th minute after Benetton wing Alessandro Izekor received a yellow card and Buthelezi dived over on the stroke of half-time, handing the team a 21-0.
The Sharks almost added their fourth try in the 52nd minute after Ox Nche’s (prop) dive over the tryline was declared inconclusive, but the Sharks were dealt a blow soon after as Lukhanyo Am (centre) received a yellow card.
Benetton took advantage of their extra man on the park and Carl Wegner crashed over in the 65th minute, scoring their first points of the match to trail to 21-7.
Sharks picked up the bonus point thanks to a 78th-minute try
Bosch kicked a penalty goal in 73rd minute to push the visitors 24-7 ahead and they sealed the win a bonus point try in the 78th minute as Sbu Nkosi (wing) danced his way around the defence to secure the Durbanites a bonus point try and the victory.
Try: Carl Wegner
Conversion: Tomas Albornoz
Tries: Ruben van Heerden, Aphelele Fassi, Phepsi Buthelezi, Sbu Nkosi
Conversions: Curwin Bosch (3)