Injuries disrupted Sharks pack

Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson says injuries up front helped contribute to their downfall against the Pumas.

The Sharks suffered their first defeat of the season on Friday night, going down 32-22 to an inspired Pumas side in Nelspruit. While a first defeat is hardly cause for concern, in itself, the manner of the defeat was much more alarming.

The side from KwaZulu-Natal were bossed in the forward battle, and were cut to shreds by the Pumas back division, shipping four tries in the process. The loss of flank Francois Kleinhans early on was hardly ideal, but the Sharks tactical inflexibility once again came to the fore.

'The injuries were a problem,' lamented Macleod-Henderson. 'They disrupted the pack, but we don't want to look for excuses.'

In addition to the injury to Kleinhans, the Sharks lost both locks during the second half, with reserve hooker Franco Marais finishing the game on the flank.

'The guys tried their hardest and came up short. We will regroup on Monday, see how the injuries are and start preparing for Griquas [at Kings Park on Saturday].'

Having trailed 18-9 at half-time, the Sharks were leading heading into the final quarter of the match, but faded badly to hand the initiative to their hosts. Their set piece malfunctioned badly in the absence of their regular locks, most notably in the build up to the Pumas' bonus-point try.

'We showed character to overturn the deficit [and lead by a point at 19-18] but then we made a succession of errors that gave them their scoring opportunities.

'The last 20 minutes were not good at all. Our set piece struggled and our defence was not up to the standard we expect. We gave them the opportunities to take the game.'

Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images