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The Cheetahs played to their strengths and we could not stop them, says Sharks coach Etienne Fynn

FILE - Sharks’ Currie Cup coach Etienne Fynn. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

FILE - Sharks’ Currie Cup coach Etienne Fynn. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Published May 15, 2022


Durban — The Sharks’ Currie Cup destiny is still technically in their own hands but that means little if they cannot turn around their wretched run of form.

The Sharks have had a disappointing fortnight, losing badly to the Pumas in Durban and then at the weekend they were outclassed by the Cheetahs 44-15 in Bloemfontein.

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The Sharks have two remaining fixtures before the playoffs, a home game against the Lions on June 4 and then they finish away to Western Province a week later.

They are currently third on the table but are descending into a dog fight with Griquas and the Pumas for the two spots that are available — the Cheetahs and Bulls can’t be caught at the top of the table and have booked home semi-finals already.

After the Sharks had lost to the Pumas coach Etienne Fynn asked for a positive reaction from his players but it did not happen. They were arguably worse although, in mitigation, the Cheetahs were in fine form in front of a decent home crowd.

It can’t be easy for Fynn to coach a side that is basically the leftovers after the URC squad has been picked, and this week head coach Sean Everitt was assembling his squad to travel to Belfast for this week’s final URC match, against Ulster.

“Player availability for the Currie Cup is totally dependent on the URC selection but whoever we play, we represent the Sharks and we have to perform,” Fynn said, offering no excuses.

“We were up against a team that is full of confidence and they fully deserve to be unbeaten and at the top of the table,” he said of the Cheetahs. “They play to their strengths and yes, they are very good. And to stop a good, settled side you have to disrupt them. We did not do that and we lost.”

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Fynn said the efficient performance of the Cheetahs should not come as surprise.

“The Currie Cup is an incredibly intense competition and we as South Africans tend to always underestimate our abilities,” he said. “If you ask anybody who has come from another country what they think of think of the standard, they will tell you it is very intense and physical.”

The Sharks had a disruption not long before kick-off when loose forward Mpilo Gumede had to withdraw, not that it would have made much of a difference had he been able to play.

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“We lost Mpilo just before kick-off so there had to be some ‘ruk and pluk’ but there is no excuse, we were well beaten,” Fynn said.

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“We have two games to play and we still can make the semis. Our destiny is still in our control — we just have to win the games and get five points from each of them.”

Qualification could well come down to the last match, the trip to Cape Town to play a Province team that has found form at last and was very good in beating the Pumas in Nelspruit.

“WP has some very good players and they have experienced coaches,” Fynn said. “It will be a massive challenge. It is going to be fire and brimstone and very tough.”


IOL Sport

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