We let our fans down, says Sharks captain Mtembu

Super Rugby

DURBAN – It reminded one of that equally dire 6-5 victory for the Reds over the Sharks at Kings Park in 2004, so bad was the rugby on show between the Durban outfit and the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday night.

Sharks captain Tera Mtembu admitted as much after his side drew 9-9 with the Australians in a Super Rugby encounter, saying that it was “not good enough” for a team with playoff ambitions, let alone winning the title.

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Tera Mtembu makes a call during the 9-9 draw with the Rebels. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePixCurwin Bosch was unable to hide his disappointment after the stalemate. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

Coach Robert du Preez, known as a tough task master, would’ve given his players the “hairdryer treatment” after an uninspiring performance that left them second in the Africa Conference 2 on 24 points, a mammoth eight behind the log-leading Lions.

This was a game the Sharks simply had to win, especially ahead of a daunting trip to take on the Jaguares in Buenos Aires next weekend.

“I think it felt like a loss. I think we were nowhere today. We set ourselves some goals and we didn’t achieve them. Well done to the Rebels, who put us under a lot of pressure, and they deserved the game today,” Mtembu said.

“It doesn’t get any easier. We are going to be honest with ourselves – this performance wasn’t good enough. If we are going to play like this next week, it’s going to be a long day at the office. There will be harsh words after this or on Monday when we do the review.

“We just have to find a way to put in performances that we are proud of if we want to have a good chance of winning this tournament.”

Of course life was made more difficult following the withdrawal of right wing Kobus van Wyk during the warm-up with a calf strain, while inside centre André Esterhuizen was red-carded in the first quarter for a dangerous tackle on Rebels wing Sefa Naivalu.

But Mtembu didn’t want to use those mitigating factors as excuses. “Losing Kobus in the warm-up is never ideal, but that’s no excuse. Everyone in the squad should be able to step up, and unfortunately we didn’t. We let our fans down, and it is not a performance that we are proud of,” the rangy loose forward said.

Curwin Bosch was unable to hide his disappointment after the stalemate. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

“We couldn’t get momentum, and I would like to know the stats of how many balls we coughed up. That was a main focus for us as we want to score tries, as you cannot score tries without the ball.”

To add insult to injury for the Sharks, Rebels captain Nic Stirzaker also spent about 22 minutes off the field after receiving two yellow cards. Yet the home side couldn’t take advantage of that situation.

Scrumhalf Stirzaker was relatively satisfied with the outcome after fullback Reece Hodge slotted a last-gasp penalty to draw the game to add to two other three-pointers, in reply to Curwin Bosch’s three goal-kicks for the Sharks.

If you had to ask us before, I guess two points in Durban is not bad. But looking at the game, not really. I think we had the opportunity to win it. We just couldn’t string some phases together, and when we did, we looked quite in the first half – we showed we could split them,” Stirzaker said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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