Sharks achieve first target

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iol spt feb23 Sharks-Kankowski

Steve Haag Gallo Images

Their 27-9 Super Rugby victory over the Hurricanes may not have been pretty, but the Sharks achieved the first target they set themselves at the start of the season. Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Johannesburg – Their 27-9 Super Rugby victory over the Hurricanes in Durban on Saturday may not have been pretty, but the Sharks achieved the first target they set themselves at the start of the season.

The coastal side will go into their bye in the third round of the competition having won their first two outings.

Sharks director of rugby Jake White said afterwards he was pleased with his charges' progress and they were looking forward to the brief break.

“The goal was to win our first two games, and now to keep our winning momentum, to make sure we win every game we play,” White said.

“It’s simple. We have to prepare. Last week we played the Bulls who were really in the face with their forwards, today we played a team that was going to ask us questions.”

The Sharks completely dominated the Hurricanes in the set-pieces in the first half, but they could only manage a narrow 10-6 lead going into the half-time break.

The forwards created enough scoring opportunities but the side's finishing ultimately let them down.

White said he was left frustrated when his troops could not translate the pressure into points, but claimed the experience as a lesson learnt.

“There were opportunities there, had we made one more pass or just held onto the ball, maybe we would have converted that into points, but those are lessons we can learn and talk going forward,” he said.

White was nevertheless upbeat following the victory, with their scrum performance in particular a cause for comfort.

“There were lots of positives to take out of the game,” he said.

“Our set-piece was outstanding. The opportunities you get from a good set-piece were there and we were good defensively.

“We didn’t finish like last week, we did everything except get the ball over the line. We need to work hard and that’s the lesson the players will take out of this game.”

The former Springbok coach said it was encouraging to see his charges come through unscathed after facing two teams with differing philosophies.

“Last week we played a forward dominated side, who bashed our line and got a try,” he said.

“This game we played a team with a great attack and to keep them tryless is fantastic for us as a group.”

He said he was proud of the players for adapting from playing a team with a forward dominating team the one week to a side with a more expansive style the next.

White said the players would be given a few days of rest before they turn their focus on the next four matches before their second bye.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett was comforted by his side's performance in their first outing of the season despite the defeat.

“It’s game one for us, there is a lot of good to take out of this,” he said.

“I think there are nerves and anxieties, the media hype and everything that goes with it, so it’s nice to put the first game to bed and move on.

“There was no lack of intensity and passion in this game.”

The Hurricanes will complete their tour of South Africa when they travel to Cape Town for Friday's clash against the Stormers, who lost their season opener against the Lions 34-10 in Johannesburg on Saturday. – Sapa


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