They say the best part of a Super Rugby trip to play the Jaguares in Argentina is when your plane taxies off the runway at Sao Paulo airport.
But the Sharks returned to South Africa with a vital four points and even some fun memories after their impressive 33-25 win in Buenos Aires.
By also denying the Jaguares a bonus point for losing by seven points or less, the Sharks have now opened up an eight-point lead over their closest challengers for the third qualification spot from the South African Group.
And while making the play-offs will by no means be a cruise from here on in, coach Robert du Preez rightly hailed a crucial win that puts them in prime position to join the Lions and Stormers in the quarterfinals.
“We knew it would be a very tough game and obviously we wanted to put right a really disappointing performance against the Rebels. But the guys played with a lot of passion and courage. Obviously they had to be technically correct too, but passion was the big driving force of that win.
“So the team are in very good spirits, they enjoyed the tour and had fun as well, which is important because it’s a daunting place to go to. They made the best of whatever opportunities they got,” Du Preez said.
The Sharks will hope their bodies are in good shape when they host the Force at King’s Park on Saturday, before they hit the road again for tricky matches in Port Elizabeth against the inspired Southern Kings and in Singapore against the Sunwolves.
“The win over the Jaguares has huge significance in regards to where we are at this stage. But every game is important, there are no easy matches in this tournament and we can’t take anything for granted. The Kings showed how well they are playing at the moment by beating the Rebels by 40 points and the next three games are crucial for us,” Du Preez said.