Maybe it was the blood-red colour of the home-side’s shirts which made the visiting Sharks so ravenous. Whatever it was, the Queenslanders had all hopes of defending their Super XV dashed well before half-time, as the South Africans blew them off their own park.
It was a feeding frenzy for the Sharks at the break-down, as their outstanding forwards hammered in to every contact area, while all 15 players exhibited silky skills as they capitalized on turn-overs then shredded the Reds out wide.
Ahead 17-0 before the home-side opened their own account, the Sharks looked in control for the entire 80-minutes, and did nothing to undermine their status as the competition’s form side.
The Reds’ decision to go for a five-forwards/two-backs split on their bench was exposed early when first-five Ben Lucas, himself standing in for the suspended Quaid Cooper, left the field injured, with Will Genia being forced to fill the role for the majority of the game.
But regardless of the challenges the Reds faced leading up to, and during, the game, it was the intensity, passion and flair that the Sharks brought that determined the outcome.
Their win means they’ll face the Stormers in South Africa in one semi-final, while the other encounter will be an all-kiwi affair as the Crusaders head back up to Hamilton for a rematch with the Chiefs.