DURBAN - There was a wry smile on the face of Sharks backline coach Sean Everett when he was asked if the Sharks had got over the disappointment of losing to the Lions in dramatic fashion at the weekend because of “a few soft moments”, as he put it.
Everett, a former school teacher, was choosing his words as carefully as they were diplomatic.
He was almost certainly referring to the role of the TMO, which saw Johan Greeff disallow a Sharks try because of a dangerous tackle in the build-up and then rule that lock Etienne Oosthuizen had twice tackled recklessly and deserved the bin.
The calls were marginal but had a significant impact.
“We were confident going into the game, had done our homework and then executed our game plan well only for telling moments at vital times that cost us dearly,” Everett said. “We feel we did enough to win the game.”
The game was played at Cup final intensity and with the Sharks having given their all, can they get up mentally for this week’s home match against the Jaguares? They were completely flat against the Kings in Durban the week before, having played a blinder to thrash the Waratahs.
“That will not be a problem,” Everett said. “We see the season as a process and we are generally improving, and the guys want to see reward for their effort with a win. For instance, there has been a huge improvement on our attack from last year.
“The guys will definitely be up for the Jaguares,” the coach continued.
“For one thing there is the carrot of having a bye next week and the guys will enjoy it a heck of a lot more after a win.”
And if you look at the log, this an extremely important game for the Sharks, who are tie on 18 points with the Jaguares, but in third place because of points difference.
“This game is vital for us,” Everett said.
“The Jaguares have a game in hand, so we need a complete performance that will get us five points so we can stay in the hunt (for the play-offs). We want to go into the bye in second place.”
The Sharks got away lightly on the injury front against the Lions and after the bye will have key players back from injury in Keegan Daniel and Philip van der Walt.
“There will be some tough selection decisions to make but that is what you want. It means you are growing a squad, and that is very important for a competition as demanding as this one.”
Everett said the Sharks were anticipating a similar type of game to last week’s epic in Johannesburg
“What will help us this week with our preparation is that the Argentineans play a similar game to the Lions. They run from all parts of the field, they like to keep ball in hand and have great athletes,” he said.
“Perhaps the only difference is that the Jaguares have a more physical aspect to their game than the Lions. They are certainly a team we respect enormously.”