Let’s face it, a few months ago the Sharks did not expect to beat the workmanlike Kings by just two points at Kings Park, nor draw pitifully against the Rebels in Durban, and then lose to the hungry Kings in Port Elizabeth.
None of those results were wildly predicted at the start of the season.
Sharks captain Philip van der Walt said that the biggest lesson his team could learn from the 35-32 defeat at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last week was that the Sunwolves encounter on Saturday would be a replica of the Kings game, and that if his team did not pull itself together, they could lose to the Sunwolves.
The Sunwolves’ sole victory was against the Bulls and in their last two matches they lost by only seven points - to the Jaguares and Chiefs - both away from home.
“I think the Sunwolves would have taken a lot of encouragement from our loss to the Kings, and it’s going to be a similar challenge on Saturday to what we faced in Port Elizabeth,” Van der Walt said.
“They will be feeling that if the Kings could beat us, so can they. They have been playing well, they play with a lot of passion and confidence and we are going to have to make sure we pitch up for the game with more passion than them."
After the Sharks’ loss to the Kings, coach Robert du Preez has been big on that word “passion”. He has made it clear that the Kings had it abundance but the Sharks did not. His captain feels the same.
“This game is more than about log points. We need to show what it means for us, as Sharks players, having done damage to a proud franchise with our performance last week,” he said.
“Like the Kings, they will throw everything at us and we’re going to have to absorb it and then show the hunger to put them away.”
Van der Walt added that the Sharks have to start playing like a team that can match the best in the play-offs, should they get that far.
“We need to prepare ourselves and our game according to the style and level of play needed in the play-offs,” he said.
“It’s not going to just happen in the latter stages of the competition. We need to get it right now or else it is just going to get tougher and tougher for us.
“We want to get our game back on track and cut out the errors that are hurting us,” Van der Walt said.