Wing JP Pietersen scored tries either side of halftime to propel South Africa’s Sharks to a 32-15 victory over the Hurricanes from New Zealand in their Super Rugby clash at King’s Park on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Michael Claassens and number eight Daniel du Preez also crossed the line for the home side, who welcomed back Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie from injury for his first appearance of the campaign off the bench.
Prop Reg Goodes and fullback James Marshall scored tries for the Hurricanes, who looked flat in the second half as they allowed the home side to dominate.
The Sharks came into the match with a single win in their previous six matches, against more New Zealand opposition in the shape of the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Hurricanes had put in one of the performances of the tournament in their previous game to stun the Lions 50-17 in Johannesburg but they never came close to reaching those heights on Saturday.
After a trade of penalties, the visitors bagged the first try but it took 31 minutes to come.
They burst into the Sharks’ 22 and an excellent reverse pass from Marshall created a great running line for Goodes to score.
The home side were level on the stroke of halftime though as Pietersen went over in the corner for his first and after Garth April’s kick struck the post the teams went to the break at 8-8.
The Sharks then hit the front as Pietersen grabbed a brace four minutes into the second period when he hacked the ball forward and sprinted clear to score unopposed.
The momentum had shifted and the Sharks began to pick holes in the Hurricanes’ defence and put pressure on the set-piece. Claassens scored their third try after a quick tap from close range.
Only brilliant defence from flank Ardie Savea denied the Sharks a fourth try, though home centre Paul Jordaan was complicit in not releasing the ball to his support.
The try came when the Sharks made territorial pressure count and Du Preez barged his way over from a scrum but the home side were denied a bonus point when Marshall cruised over under the posts.