REPORT: Sharks flex and then flop against Stormers

At a warm and humid Kings Park on Saturday evening, there was a sense that the rugby landscape is slowly returning to normal.

Although only 2,000 fans are allowed to pitch up in crowd attendance, they made their presence felt, with the majority packing into the popular West Stand.

It’s a sign that the Sharks are in good health as a franchise, having built a squad that certainly has the ability to draw in the crowds once stadiums are opened up further.

From Makazole Mapimpi setting up a try for Lukhanyo Am, to Aphelele Fassi delivering a beautiful grubber that led to another five-pointer, there was plenty of star power.

Other highlights included Lukhanyo Am turning Blitzboks legend Seabelo Senatla inside-out as he produced the clean break of the match, while the all-Bok front row of Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Thomas du Toit mostly feasted at scrum time.

However, there was still an overwhelming sense that Saturday’s performance was a million miles from the Sharks’ level of capability, and they were punished for ill-discipline and some complacency.

For most onlookers, it’s virtually impossible to see Mbonambi and Kolisi in the black kit of the Sharks without doing a double take. Not so long ago, they were dedicated Stormers players, but that has all changed in the past year.

With the backing of MVM Holdings, the Sharks do have the financial clout to continue fine-tuning a squad that will eventually be capable of contending for URC honours when this side is at full-strength.

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With a coaching staff that boasts the likes of Warren Whiteley, Noel McNamara, Pat Lambie and Akvsenti Giorgadz, there are all the makings of a formidable franchise.

This is a team that will only get better as the year progresses, and the word on the ground suggests a couple more high-profile recruits could soon be on their way to KwaZulu-Natal in the near future.

At the moment, the Bulls still look like the only other South African side that will challenge the Sharks to finish the inaugural URC season as the best-placed SA team.

Yet, the fact of the matter is that the Sharks looked flat on Saturday, with ill-discipline and inconsistency remain two areas of real concern, as evidenced by their failure to clinch a triumphant result in a game where they really should have finished as runaway winners.