Neil Powell rued the “costly” yellow cards in a loss to Leinster that ended the Sharks’ Vodacom United Rugby Championship title chances this season.
The Durbanites’ dream of lifting a maiden URC trophy came to a crashing halt in Dublin on Saturday, as they suffered a 35-5 quarter-final defeat. The loss also dashed their chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions Cup.
Left winger Makazole Mapimpi and openside flanker James Venter were both sin-binned in the first and second half, respectively, which proved to be a decisive turning point in the game.
Director of rugby, Powell expressed his disappointment post-match, saying: “We had a great start but, unfortunately, the yellow card we conceded in the first half was costly. They scored two tries in that time.
“Even at half time, the guys still had the belief that we can be competitive in the second half and have a chance to be successful.”
The Sharks’ inability to capitalise on their chances also proved to be their undoing, and Powell added: “It’s small things in a game that give you belief and momentum and get you into a positive mindset. We just weren’t clinical enough. We missed a few opportunities in the first and second half.”
Leinster took full advantage of their numerical advantage, scoring three tries in the 20 minutes that the Sharks were down to 14 men.
With their URC campaign over, the Sharks will now turn their attention to the Currie Cup, where they will likely look to bolster their squad with URC campaigners.
Despite the disappointment of their URC exit, Powell remains optimistic: “We will go back and reflect on what went wrong, but there are a lot of positives to take from this season.”
Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Leinster website