Sharks coach Sean Everitt believes the enforced break in Vodacom Super Rugby competition actually comes at just the right time following his team’s physically draining win over the Stormers in Durban on Saturday.
The Sharks forwards and backs combined well to produce a top performance that laid the foundation for their 24-14 win against the Stormers in front of a lively Kings Park crowd.
Speaking after the game, Everitt lauded his team in general, but the forwards in particular for their gutsy display against the more established and accomplished Stormers pack.
‘We are very happy with the result. We were under pressure during the week with the criticism about our set piece and playing against a Springbok pack. All credit must go to the players for the effort and energy that they played with. I think Brent [Janse van Rensburg] and Etienne [Fynn] have done a wonderful job this week. We knew what we were playing against and what the Stormers were gonna bring with their front row,’ he said.
‘So you’ve got to give credit them, some of those guys won a World Cup. But our guys stood up and stayed in the fight. At the end of the day, it was a battle of fitness. We were waiting for [Steven] Kitshoff to come off, then we were waiting for [Frans] Malherbe, but then Wilco Louw is also a Springbok. The introduction of Craig Burden at the same time as their substitution probably made a bit of a difference,’ Everitt added.
‘Our guys stuck to the task at hand, even when the bounce of the ball didn’t go our way, with Louis [Schreuder] getting injured early and there was a lot of adversity in the game, but the guys bounced backed and hung in there until the last three minutes to seal the win.’
Everitt chose the diplomatic route when probed about the foul play incident involving Sharks scrumhalf Louis Schreuder and Stormers flank Johan du Toit early in the game. The former leapt high to secure possession in the air, but the latter went charging at him and recklessly took Scheuder’s feet out in the air. The action saw Schreuder fall to the ground dangerously, hitting his back and his head.
But while it brought a premature end to the injured party’s continued involvement in the game, referee AJ Jacobs only sanctioned Du Toit with a yellow card despite the TMO’s recommendation that he be issued with a red card.
‘We did look at it, but it’s difficult to say [whether it should have been a yellow or red card]. My whole philosophy about rugby is to keep the game safe and maybe that comes from me being a teacher and coaching younger boys at school. I think we can all do better to try and make the game a bit safer,’ Everitt commented.
‘Whether it was a yellow or a red, that’s debatable. We’ll have a look later and hopefully the officials will come up with the right solution. In saying that, we lost a player and it was dangerous otherwise he wouldn’t have gone off. Louis is fine now. He had a head injury assessment which he failed because he was knocked out, so hopefully he will recover because we have a bit of a break now. Hopefully he will be back for our next game.’
Of course the break Everitt referred to is the provisional suspension of all Super Rugby fixtures due to the ongoing and ever-expanding threat of the Covid-19 virus. It has sparked fears that unexpected mid-season break could stifle certain teams’ momentum. But Everitt is adamant that is not the case for the Sharks.
‘To be honest, I think it’s a welcome break for us, our guys are knackered. As you saw, they gave everything against the Stormers and have done so every other week. We haven’t played a complete game, we been good in some areas, weak in others. But where we’ve been good has bailed us out and against the Stormers that was the scrum.
‘One thing that mustn’t be forgotten is that we came into the competition wanting to be consistent and I think this team has shown that they can be. We are in round seven and we haven’t taken our foot off the gas. Our guys need the break. Unfortunately we can’t host the Chiefs next week, but that’s just the way it is. We welcome the break.’
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