Auckland – Director of rugby Jake White believes Saturday’s historic win over the Crusaders could be a significant “turning point” in the Sharks’ Super Rugby campaign, with the Durban side having restored their five-point advantage at the top of the overall log.
Heading into the clash, the Sharks’ season had reached the crossroads after a defeat to the Brumbies saw their lead at the summit of the standings cut to just one point.
However, their response was as emphatic as it gets as they clinched their first victory in Christchurch despite being reduced to 14 men for the majority of the match after Jean Deysel was shown a red card early on.
“There’s no doubt that good teams can turn their season around like this and get a massive boost,” White enthused.
“We showed that when we do hold onto the ball we can create pressure. A couple of our plays worked for us, and it gives us massive belief going into the next two games before the June international window.
“We’ve got a sense of how well we can play and what we can do, which is fantastic at this stage of the season.”
The win was built on a character-filled defensive display, which White said had to be one of the best efforts he had ever experienced as a coach.
“We were down to 13 players at one stage (after a yellow card to Willem Alberts late in the game) against a championship side like the Crusaders, who have proven that they can tear teams apart. So to get a result like that with the numbers against us, and the way we defended at the end, it was really special. I’ve coached a lot of teams, including the Springboks and Brumbies, but this was about as good as it gets.”
The Sharks have now settled into their base in Auckland ahead of this Friday’s final tour game against the Blues, and White has quickly reminded his players that there is simply no time to bask in the afterglow of a famous victory.
“It’s a massive win against a championship team, but in the greater scheme of things, we haven’t won anything yet, we’ve just won a game in New Zealand. It’s a wonderful achievement, but we have to keep our feet on the ground.”
Soon after the team’s arrival in Auckland, a preliminary judicial hearing into Deysel’s red card offence was held via tele-conference, with the case being considered in the first instance by Sanzar Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson.
Deysel was sent from the field for stamping on Crusaders flanker Jordan Taufua, and after taking the matter under review overnight, Davidson is expected to pass down his judgment today. Although Deysel responded to clear provocation after being held back off the ball, and will have contested that his intention was not to make contact with Taufua’s face, the likelihood is that he could well face a further suspension. White said it was a very unfortunate incident.
“It’s not something you ever like to see, but it’s not for me to comment on. We have to put our heads down and keep going. Jean is a tough man, but he has a good disciplinary record, and he was really remorseful in the change-room afterwards.”
After the match, Taufua said Deysel had come up to him to apologise.
“I have no hard feelings, it’s a contact sport, I think it was just a heat of the moment thing as he was trying to get back to his defensive line, and he just reacted to it. I’m sure he wasn’t intending for my face; he was just trying to break free.”– The Star