Sharks coach Sean Everitt says his side’s start to their opening victory over the Lions was pleasing but their set piece was a concern. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Sharks began their Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked campaign with a nail-biting 19-16 victory over the Lions in Durban.
The match itself was tighter than the Sharks would have liked, especially after the home side got off to a cracking start when debutant Werner Kok scored in the opening 20 minutes.
At that stage, the Sharks were dominating possession and playing most of their rugby in the Lions’ half, causing the visitors a headache under the high ball.
However, the Lions clawed their way back into the contest, taking the game beyond the 80-minute mark and had the opportunity to snatch a victory with a late scrum near the Sharks’ tryline.
Speaking after the match, Sharks coach Everitt said they would have wanted more tries from their excellent start and that they themselves were to blame for the way they slumped in the second period.
‘We asked the players for a fast start. It was our theme this week, especially after the poor start we had against the Bulls,’ Everitt said. ‘We are happy with the way we started. We probably could have scored one or two more tries in those opening 20 minutes, but it wasn’t the case.
‘From there, we made quite a few mistakes, our discipline let us down and it was pretty much our own demise, really.
‘We are performance driven and we will praise performance. It just shows you that when a team works for each other and shows a tremendous amount of effort, what can happen with the result, even though you didn’t play as well as you would have liked to.’
Everitt said a turnover penalty won by flank James Venter near the Sharks’ tryline on the stroke of half time gave his team a massive psychological boost.
‘It was massive for us. We were under the pump. If we had gone into the change room with the scores closer, it might have been a bit different coming out. It is always an energy-giver. The guys came into the change room really pumped up after that. You could see that from the reaction when they got that turnover.
‘There were a couple of them tonight. Dylan [Richardson] got in on the ball a couple of times. This is a team that lives for turnovers. It is something we work really hard on. To see us get that reward before half time was a massive boost.’
A major concern for the Sharks going into their next game against the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria will be their set piece.
The Lions were fairly comfortable in this area, with props Sti Sithole and Carlu Sadie getting the better of their Springbok-capped opposite numbers. Meanwhile, Lions lock Marvin Orie put the Sharks lineout under plenty of pressure, causing confusion between young hooker Dylan Richardson and his jumpers.
‘Our set piece struggled, no secret about that. But that is also what won us the game at the end, so I suppose we can’t be too harsh. We weren’t happy with our lineout, it is something we need to work on.
‘We must remember that these guys have only played 40 minutes of rugby together [at Loftus Versfeld] so it was never going to be a complete performance, if you are going to be real about it. We must remember that we have a young hooker who is going through a transition from loose forward, so those mistakes will happen. We have to be patient. He is a great rugby player and in my opinion a future Springbok.
‘There is a lot of work to do. Fortunately, we have survived the first round and have a bye next week. It will be a week of really hard work to prepare to face the Bulls at Loftus in two weeks’ time.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images