Sharks assistant coach Sean Everitt on what went wrong against the Cheetahs and what they must do to beat the Lions.
The Sharks made 13 handling errors in their opening match against the Cheetahs at Kings Park. How much of a role did the conditions play in that?
It’s never easy to play rugby in Durban in February because of the humidity. However, the accuracy and execution of our passing wasn’t up to standard, and we will continue to work on that. On the positive side, there was some good handling and offloads [the Sharks made 15 offloads, the second most in round one behind the Chiefs with 19]. Look at the try we scored off a set piece, with Tera Mtembu breaking off the back of the scrum and passing to Cobus Reinach, who put Pat Lambie away under the posts. If you look at the percentage rate, we handled the ball more times than we have in the past, and with that comes risk and errors. We are working hard to fix that.
What else have you worked on ahead of Saturday's match against the Lions in Durban?
We didn't play cleverly against the Cheetahs when looking to exit from our 22, so we have worked on our roles and responsibilities in that area of the field.
The Sharks kicked 22 times out of hand compared to the Cheetahs' 29. Should you have kicked more?
We don’t want to kick ball away that we can use to attack. We had two opportunities to attack in our 22 and one ended up positive with Lwazi Mvovo’s try. The other one ended up very close to the Cheetahs tryline with Marcell Coetzee knocking the ball on. When the opportunity is there to attack we don’t want to kick the ball away. But as I said, we can play a lot smarter in our 22.
What do you make of the fact that the Sharks made 555 running metres compared to the Cheetahs 245, yet lost the game?
It means that we didn’t attack accurately and made a lot of errors when it counted. The Cheetahs defended really well and played rugby in the right areas of the field.
The Sharks conceded nine turnovers against the Cheetahs, What went wrong at the breakdown?
It was probably our reaction to the ball-carrier, but we have worked hard on that this week. The breakdown is a big factor in the modern game, and with the likes of Derick Minnie and Jaco Kriel on top of their game, we are going to have to be a lot cleverer and more accurate in that area on Saturday.
What are your thoughts on the Lions and how will you counter their attacking game?
The Lions are a very good team and have played a similar pattern of rugby over the last few seasons. They are well grooved in the way they play, which is only possible with a strong set piece. Their scrum functioned really well last year and their lineout and maul have been good weapons too. We will have to produce a big defensive effort to stop their attack and win the game.
What are your thoughts on round one, which saw six away wins from seven matches?
It’s very interesting. The teams that played away, played less rugby and kicked more. So one wonders whether the teams playing at home are trying to entertain the crowd by playing a lot of rugby.
How serious is the injury to Beast Mtawarira and how long are you expecting him to be out for?
Beast has strained his calf and it looks like he will be out for a couple of weeks. Luckily, we have guys like Dale Chadwick, who has plenty of Super Rugby experience as well as Thomas du Toit, who had a fantastic debut season last year. We are in the fortunate position of having plenty of cover for Beast. We hope he’s back and ready as soon as possible.
Interview by Nick Lambie
Photo: Sabelo Mngoma/BackpagePix