DURBAN – It will be back to the drawing board for the Sharks after their Currie Cup “wake-up call” in Cape Town at the weekend, according to coach Robert du Preez.
Du Preez’s charges were soundly beaten 50-28 in a top-of-the-table clash that to a large degree was about who will finish first on the standings after next week’s final round of the competition, and ultimately host the final.
There is a bye this week and then next week the Sharks finish away to Griquas and Province travel to the Bulls.
But while the KwaZulu-Natalians are in a strong position to claim the other home semi-final by beating Griquas, a defeat without a bonus point in that match could see the Blue Bulls or Lions leap into second place if they win their respective matches with bonus points.
Whatever the scenario, it is all to play for when the Sharks head for Kimberley.
But before then, coach Du Preez will be cracking the whip at training.
“The boys showed a lot of guts and character to comeback in the second half, but it is also a wakeup call for us,” Du Preez said. “We are going to have to go back to the drawing board and work a lot harder.”
Disappointed as he was, Du Preez was gracious in defeat.
“You have to give credit to Province. They were outstanding,” he said. “There were too many lapses in our game and from the turnovers they executed really well.”
In a 25-minute blitz in the first half, the hosts scored 31 unanswered points. The Sharks courageously clawed their way back to within ten points before another surge from Province. Du Preez pin-pointed the moment when the match slipped from the Sharks after having been on a knife edge early in the second half.
“I thought we had a nice opportunity when we had that nine-man lineout on their line but then we had that overthrow, and that changed the game completely. That was our big chance,” he said.
“So we had our opportunities, we just made too many mistakes. We were impatient again,” Du Preez added, alluding to the problem area of patience that has been a big focus for the Sharks in the Currie Cup.
“The positive was the character we showed to come back in the game to potentially set it up for a win. It was a tough encounter. There was a lot of running and some big collisions. Hopefully the crowd got their money’s worth.”