A dominating Griquas forward pack, with clever options and execution by their captain and flyhalf George Whitehead, handled the wet conditions and first match of the Currie Cup season better as they completely outplayed the Sharks in Durban.
The 37-13 result which included a bonus point probably came as a shock to a disjointed and error-prone Durban side that played as 15 individuals.
The defeat is a huge setback for their chances of a successful defence of the title they won against Western Province last year. With only three home games in a truncated season and only five matches remaining, this leaves the Sharks with lots to think about and work on.
Griquas were surer in their handling of the wet ball, were quicker to the breakdown and with aggressive play by their forwards had enough of the ball, including a number of turnovers that went their way.
Perhaps the game was won by a predetermined tactic to kick the ball onto the Sharks at the back while the home side, quite ineffectively, tried to run in the wet.
There were handling errors in abundance, and the Sharks were also penalised frequently for silly mistakes at the breakdown and for being off-sides after Griquas dominated possession and territory and went on the drive.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt will have to rethink the make-up of especially his pack again. There was little fire and little cohesion, and more of the same awaits them if this is not out right before they are at home to Western Province in a repeat of last year’ final.
With Curwin Bosch, Aphelele Fassi and later replacement Rhyno Smith full of running and some good touches by JP Pietersen at centre, more and better possession could have made a difference.
But then, this was a disjointed effort from 15 individuals.
Sharks (6) 13: Tries: Cameron Wright. Conversions: Curwin Bosch. Penalties: Bosch (2)
Griquas (10) 37: Tries: Zak Burger, Michal Haznar, Wilmar Arnoldi (2). Conversions: George Whitehead (3). Penalties: Whitehead (3)