The DHL Stormers scored four unanswered tries to beat the Sharks 32-12 at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday and climb to second on the Super Rugby table.
The Stormers notched their eighth win in nine matches to move to 42 points, one behind New Zealand’s Auckland Blues.
In a bruising match between South Africa’s two leading teams, it was the home side who won the battle of the breakdown against their much-vaunted opponents.
“It was a fantastic win, especially as we haven’t always performed that well after a bye,” said Stormers captain Schalk Burger. “Our defence is pretty solid but we’d still like to work on our attack.”
Stormers stand-in flyhalf Lionel Cronje, who kicked 13 points against the Lions last week filling in for regular pivot Peter Grant, gave the hosts an early 3-0 lead with a penalty in the ninth minute.
Sharks flyhalf Patrick Lambie equalised two minutes later before the Stormers scored the first of three first-half tries to confirm their ascendancy.
Springbok centre Jean de Villiers worked a dummy scissors from a scrum in the 16th minute to dot down underneath the posts to make it 10-3.
Lambie narrowed the gap with a second penalty but the crowd of 46 018 were soon celebrating a second try for the home team, scored by winger Gio Aplon after the Sharks, having tried to run the ball from deep in their own half, spilled the ball in contact.
Lambie kept the Sharks in the game with a third penalty on the half hour but four minutes later it was De Villiers’s international centre partner, Jaque Fourie, who cantered in after an excellent set move from a lineout in which flanker Francois Louw timed his midfield offload to perfection.
The Stormers’ defence, which has been their hallmark over the past two seasons, held in the second half against a resurgent Sharks team. But they were penalised twice for dangerous tackles, allowing Lambie to cut the deficit to 10 points in the 54th minute.
With play becoming increasingly scrappy as the match wound down, it was Aplon who capitalised on a poor clearing kick by Sharks centre Stefan Terblanche by slotting a touchline drop goal to make it 25-12.
Hooker Deon Fourie put the result beyond doubt when he burrowed over from a lineout drive with seven minutes left to bring up the bonus point.
DHL Stormers 32-Tries: Jean de Villiers, Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Deon Fourie ; Conversions: Lionel Cronje (3), Kurt Koleman; Penalties:L.Cronje (2),Drop goal: Gio Aplon
Sharks 12 – Penalties: Patrick Lambie (4)