VIDEO: Sharks end SA's travel drought in 103-point thriller
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Sharks became the first South African team to win outside the borders of the Republic.
The men from Durban - who smashed the Blues 63-40 in Auckland on Saturday - had previously won just one of their fine games this season, beating the lowly Sunwolves.
However, they not only became the first SA team to win abroad this year, they also secured their biggest ever win.
The 23-point margin surpasses the 34-18 win they scored in May 2007.
The Sharks got out the blocks fast and held a 26-7 lead at the half-time break.
However, but a yellow card for a needless high tackle by Sibusiso Nkosi turned the game on its head.
By the time the Sharks wing returned from the sin bin, the Blues had taken a 28-26 lead.
The visitors hit back with a quick one-two to regain the lead and then another yellow card - this time against Blues wing Jordan Trainer - handed the Sharks the advantage that gifted them the match.
By the time trainer returned, the Sharks had raced into a 53-28 lead and there was no way back for the home team.
Unable to contain the strong running of the visitors, the Blues never settled to their own game and were forced into playing catch-up for most of the game.
It was a risk taken by coach Tana Umaga to field his ace back Rieko Ioane at inside centre and it didn't pay off with his attacking ability well contained by the strong defence closer to the forwards.
Starting in abrasive style the Sharks made the most of their early chances, and taking advantage of Blues mistakes, especially in handling. A scything break by fullback Curwin Bosch opened up the defences and in the resulting play, the Sharks line-out defence put pressure on the Blues who sent poor ball the way of scrumhalf Sam Nock which he wasn't able to clear.
From resulting play sharp running halfback Louis Schreuder provided the impetus for his forwards to run onto, a situation in which flanker Jean-Luc du Preez especially thrived. But it was lock and captain Ruan Botha who burst onto a short pass to go over close to the posts.
Breakdown and offside penalties in goal-kicking positions saw first five-eighths Robert du Preez land four early penalty goals to maintain the scoreboard pressure.
Typical of the Blues' misfortune was their claiming of a line-out resulting from a penalty kick to the corner. The maul crabbed across field before No.8 Akira Ioane burst back to the blindside and looked to have scored in the corner. But a TMO check revealed he put a foot in touch.
From the resulting line-out, the Sharks placed a long kick downfield through Bosch in response to a Perofeta cross kick. While the Blues regained the ball their touch clearance saw the Sharks claim the line-out and launch a midfield move which saw Jean-Luc du Preez run in the try, after an inside pass from inside centre Andre Esterhuizen, from 35 metres out – a 14-point turnaround for the Blues.
Ioane did get his try, four minutes into the second half, after Sharks wing Sibusiso Nkosi was sin-binned for a high tackle on Melani Nanai. From the scrum, a penalty was awarded and Ioane took it quickly and took the ball to the line. The ball was moved from one side of the field back to the other where Ioane was back on his feet to score.
They capitalised again, after halfback Jonathan Ruru, who had originally been named to start, replaced Nock and immediately provided urgency although it was Rieko Ioane's clearance from halfback that found lock Patrick Tuipulotu who burned through the Sharks midfield like a centre. Once through he was in open space and cleared out on a 40m run to the line.
Two minutes later a charge down of a Collins kick rebounded to Perofeta who ran straight into a gap, ghosted past defenders and burned the defence on a 50-metre run to score.
However, the Blues lead was short-lived. The Sharks used a line-out maul to set up a midfield play and lock Stephen Lewies looked set to repeat Tuipulotu's feat but he was hauled in but not before finding Robert du Preez who reclaimed the lead and added the conversion.
He wasn't finished an added another superbly struck penalty goal. There was also time for an injury time to fullback Curwin Bosch.
Man of the match: Flyhalf Stephen Perofeta and No.8 Akira Ioane were the Blues' most productive players. However, it was a Du Preez show - brothers Jean-Luc and Robert the destroyers in chief. Flyhalf Robert du Preez gets our award. The teams scored six tries each - one of those to Robert. The No.10 produced a flawless kicking display off the tee - adding six conversions and seven penalties for a personal tally of 38 points.
For the Blues:
Tries: Collins, A Ioane, Tuipulotu, Perofeta, R Ioane, Moala
Cons: Perofeta 4, Gatland
For the Sharks:
Tries: Botha, JL du Preez, Mtembu, R du Preez, Van Wyk, Bosch
Cons: R du Preez 6
Pens: R du Preez 7
Yellow card: Sibusiso Nkosi (Sharks, 43 - foul play, high tackle), Jordan Trainer (Blues, 65 - foul play, making contact with a player in the air)
Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Jordan Trainor, 13 George Moala, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Murphy Taramai, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Mike Tamoaieta, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Thomas Faiane.
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tyler Paul, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Jacobus van Wyk.
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)