The Hurricanes have come crashing back down to earth.

Chris Boyd's side were thoroughly outplayed by the Sharks this morning, falling 32-15 to drop down the Super Rugby ladder.

Having won only once in six games, the South Africans were given little chance against a New Zealand outfit that scored seven tries in a 50-17 destruction of the Lions last weekend.

Rugby World Cup winner JP Pietersen scored his first tries this season for Sharks, who leap up the ladder with the victory.


Springboks winger Pietersen dotted down just before half-time to level the scores at 8-8, and four minutes into the second half to give the South Africans a seven-point advantage.

Tries from scrum-half Michael Claassens and loose forward Daniel du Preez helped stretch the lead to 24 points before a late James Marshall try for the New Zealanders made the round 11 scoreline less lopsided.

A successful first appearance of the season for Springboks fly-half Patrick Lambie off the bench completed a near-perfect day for the Sharks at Kings Park stadium in Durban.

The only disappointment for a home side inspirationally skippered by loosehead prop Tendai 'The Beast' Mtawarira, was that conceding the late Marshall try meant forfeiting a bonus point.

There are three quarter-finals places up for grabs from the two Africa conferences and the Sharks lie fourth, two points behind fellow South Africans the Northern Bulls.

Hurricanes are fourth in the New Zealand conference, but on course to fill one of five places reserved for Australasian teams.

The Sharks avoided the carelessness of the Lions in Johannesburg and defended superbly when under the cosh for long periods of the opening half.

The first Pietersen try was key and the Sharks took the initiative after the break with his second try coming after he booted a loose ball, gathered and dived over.

Rattled, the Hurricanes lost star fly-half Beauden Barrett temporarily for a concussion test, and when Claassens and Du Preez scored the visitors were 32-8 behind.

Continuing to run the ball at every opportunity, the 2015 Super Rugby runners-up scored six minutes from time through Marshall, but there was to be no great escape.

Sidelined by a pre-season injury, Lambie showed no traces of rustiness as he kicked a penalty and a conversion after coming on for the impressive Garth April.

April kicked two conversions and a penalty and his unpredictability with ball in hand kept the Hurricanes guessing on a perfect southern hemisphere autumn day for rugby.

Loosehead prop Reg Goodes scored the first try for the New Zealanders, full-back Jason Woodward converted the second, and Barrett slotted a penalty.

The Hurricanes return home to host the struggling Reds next Saturday, the same day the Sharks are in Argentine capital Buenos Aires for a showdown with the Jaguares.