Sharks coach Sean Everitt says his players are distraught after relinquishing a 10-point lead in the Currie Cup final against the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday.
The Sharks had opened up a deserved 19-9 lead at Loftus after a short break in play due to inclement weather conditions in Pretoria. But the hosts fought back to draw level at 19-19 at full-time to send the game to extra-time.
However, during the time the Bulls had launched their comeback, the Sharks themselves had ample opportunities to put the result beyond doubt but poor decision-making and execution cost them dearly.
During the virtual post-match press conference, Everitt explained that he supports whatever decision his players made on the field.
‘We’re very disappointed, the players are gutted and I’m gutted for them,’ he said. ‘They fought hard for 100 minutes.’
‘The players on the field have got a feel for the game. Yes one can debate that if we had scored a try we wouldn’t be having this conversion now [they opted to kick at goal instead of kicking for touch]. But I suppose to take the score to 22-9 is probably a conservative way to think about it and maybe the right way.
’Last week we went to the corner against Western Province and the players felt it was the right decision and we scored the try and no one questioned that.
‘So yeah, it wasn’t one isolated moment, there were more than just one moment and that contributed to it [the defeat]. If the players felt it was the right decision at that time and that they had momentum in the game, yes I back the players.’
Another element of the Sharks’ tactics that came into question was the call to launch aerial bombs twice when on a penalty advantage instead of trying something different on attack. But again, Everitt failed to find fault with the way his players approached the situation.
‘When you kick the ball on a penalty advantage, you’re making it a 50-50. Unfortunately the kick accuracy on both of those weren’t what we wanted it to be. But I don’t have a problem with the decision at all,’ said Everitt.
The coach went on to say that fatigue also played a huge role in his team’s capitulation towards the end when they slipped off tackles which allowed the Bulls to score the winning try.
‘It was definitely tired legs,’ he admitted. ‘They played rugby for 100 minutes. It’s not often you get that opportunity, so obviously the guys were tired.
‘It’s not like they wanted the miss tackles. I thought the players did really well in keeping the Bulls out for so long. They did apply pressure but we stopped their mauls, we did keep them out. But I suppose it’s fair to say that the guys were tired.’
Photo: Anton Geyser