Sharks too good for Griquas
The Sharks all but killed off any chances Griquas had of making the Currie Cup semi-finals thanks to a comprehensive 42-3 win in Durban on Friday.
The visitors had an enormous mountain to climb to stay in the hunt, and in the end were no match for the tournament leaders after conceding five tries to nill.
Cobus Reinach, Louis Ludik and Lwazi Mvovo all scored in the opening 40 minutes, before replacement Lubabalo Mtembu and Charl McLeod scored late on to round up a bonus-point triumph.
The win means that John Plumtree's men will not only host one of next week's semi-finals, which was already known, but also potential final if they get there, while the men from Kimberley face an anxious 24-hour wait to learn their fate.
They remain fourth on the log, but can be overhauled by either the Free State Cheetahs or Blue Bulls and slip into a relegation/promotion play-off with the First Division champions.
There were no such doubts for the Sharks on a warm night in the east coast city.
They began brightly and were ahead after nine minutes when Reinach burst down the right and passed inside to Odwa Ndungane, before slicing back in to collect and carry over.
Griquas had a chance to hit back via a penalty when Anton Bresler was penalised for slowing play down, but Francois Brummer sent his kick just wide.
Another superb solo break by Reinach, down the middle this time, saw him escape two defenders only to fall over short of the line.
By that time a penalty was awarded and Patrick Lambie, who kicked 17 points in total, extended the advantage.
Brummer found his range with an 18th minute penalty, before the Sharks scored a second try just short of the half-hour mark.
It all went wrong after a knock-on by visiting fullback Willie Le Roux on the try line and from the ensuing attack, Lambie's grubber kick was fielded by Ludik on his way over.
At the other end, Sharks captain Keegan Daniel was sent to the sin bin in the 32nd minute for cynical play after collapsing a maul, giving Griquas the numerical advantage ahead of the break.
However, it was their opponents that instead scored in the closing stages when Lambie passed inside to Mvovo, who barged his way through a host of bodies and stretched over the line.
With time almost up on the clock, Jannie Boshoff was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle as the Sharks led by 19 heading into the interval.
Lambie added another penalty straight after the restart and another 13 minutes into the half when Marnus Schoeman took too long to release in a tackle.
The bulk of the play continued to take place in the Sharks' half, but little reward was forthcoming as the visitors erred at crucial times.
Replacement flank Mtembu eventually scored the first try of the half when he went over unmarked on the left with 10 minutes to play, while McLeod added the finishing touch when he ran 25 metres to score under the posts.
Tries: Reinach, Ludik, Mvovo, Mtembu, McLeod
Cons: Lambie 4
Pens: Lambie 3
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Jandre Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Peet Marais, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.
Griquas: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Ligtoring Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (c), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matt Dobson, 17 Ivann Espag, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Wesley Wilkins, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Richard Lawson.
Referee: Jaco Peyper