Neil Powell says the decision to rule out Grant Williams’ second try for a forward pass was the turning point as the Sharks suffered a heavy defeat against Toulouse in the Champions Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.
Despite missing two of their influential Springboks – Eben Etzebeth and Jaden Hendrikse – due to injuries, the Sharks pushed Toulouse to the brink at the Stade Ernest-Wallon, but the hosts cruised in the final 20 minutes to run away with the game and claim a 54-20 win.
Hendrikse’s replacement, Grant Williams, turned in an excellent performance, finishing off a brilliant try started by Curwin Bosch in the first half and was arguably unfortunate to have a second ruled out due to a forward pass earlier in the build-up.
“The turning point was Grant Williams’ second try (61st minute), which was not awarded due to a forward pass by him to Thomas du Toit. If we could have scored there, it would have created renewed momentum that we could have carried through,” Powell said after the match.
“Nevertheless, the guys put everything in, and showed tremendous fighting spirit. They played their hearts out.”
The scoreline somewhat flattered Toulouse as the hosts scored four tries in the final 10 minutes after the Sharks became increasingly desperate to play their way back into the match, lost control and made too many errors in the closing stages.
“It was particularly disappointing as we had been extremely competitive for so long and with barely 20 minutes to go we still had a chance to win,” Powell said.
“When you play in the knockout rounds of a competition like the Champions Cup against an excellent team like Toulouse, who know what it takes to be successful, you have to be more clinical and try to limit mistakes.”
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