Johannesburg –Sharks’ director of rugby Jake White praised his side’s defensive efforts following their 34-10 win over the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
The Sharks were presented with a perfect dress rehearsal for their Super Rugby playoff against the Highlanders next week, after running out worthy victors against the hosts, who enjoyed the majority of possession.
“Defence is not something that can be coached. It is something that comes from the players, it comes from the heart,” White said after the game.
Their victory broke a sequence of back-to-back defeats heading into the match. White said his outfit would draw inspiration from the way their defence triumphed over a determined Stormers unit.
“The Stormers have an unbelievable defence but when the gaps opened up late in the game, we made good use of it.”
The Sharks needed a bonus point victory by winning by more than 30 points to improve their third-place log position to second place and, in doing so, avoid the playoffs.
It was not to be for the Durban outfit. White said he had a discussion with his squad about pushing for at least four tries.
He reminded them that the Bulls once needed 72 points in a final pool game to secure a home semifinal, in 2007.
The Bulls went on to score a 92-3 win over the Reds at Loftus Versfeld.
“I wanted the Sharks to believe that it was not impossible, because years ago the Bulls showed that it was achievable.
“But the first job was to get a win and that would give us momentum going into the play-offs.”
The Sharks are the only South African franchise in the playoffs. White said the Sharks would be strengthened by the return of Patrick Lambie and Tendai Mtawarira next week.
The former Springbok coach was hopeful centre JP Pietersen, stretchered off after a collision with Stormers’ Duane Vermeulen, would be fit to play.
“Initially we feared JP broke his jaw, but scans showed that it was not the case, but we’ll have to see about concussion.
“Lambie and Beast (Mtawarira) will be back and maybe Jaco Reinach as well.”
The Stormers were set on winning the match for the sake of taking momentum into the Currie Cup, as well as providing a fitting farewell for players who would further their careers abroad.
“It was not a good way to finish the Super Rugby season but credit to the Sharks who will take a lot of confidence out of this match,” Stormers’ coach Allister Coetzee said afterwards.
The Stormers lost the gainline battle for most of the way and their attacking intentions were foiled by a string of penalties.
“The breakdown was difficult and we could not play without quick ball,” Coetzee said.
“The Sharks had the upper hand at breakdown and then it did not help our cause that so many penalties went against us. In the end, we gave away two soft tries, but the match was much closer than the final scoreline reflects.” – Sapa