JOHANNESBURG - If the Sharks end up winning the Currie Cup this year, they will look back to their 50-point pasting at Western Province as the turning point of their campaign, says elder statesman Lwazi Mvovo ahead of his team’s visit to Griquas on Saturday (3pm kickoff).
The Sharks went to Cape Town two weeks ago unbeaten and although they made a decent fist of the match, they nevertheless lost 50-28, a score that caused deep introspection during last week’s bye. It is safe to say the Sharks returned from Newlands having swallowed a good dose of humility after their previous outing had seen them shine in beating the Golden Lions at Kings Park.
“I think the loss was a blessing in disguise for us, we thought everything was fine and perfect, then in Cape Town it proved not to be the case,” the 32-year-old said. “The good thing is that the mistakes we made are ones we know we can correct.
“For instance, we know in this competition you cannot give away possession like we did at Newlands ... there were some forced offloads that did not stick, so we are trying to calm down a bit and focus in on our game plan, which is about being patient, as well as keeping possession of the ball.”
And the fleet-footed Province backs made the most of the charity that came their way. “A number of their tries came off our mistakes, so going forward we want to hold onto the ball and build phases,” Mvovo continued. “When we do that, after about six or seven phases, we end up scoring tries. That has been our main focus, as well as communication in defence.”
Not surprisingly, there was no loafing for the Sharks last week, when the only rugby on the go was the big Test between the Springboks and All Blacks in Pretoria. “We did not go anywhere,” Mvovo smiled.
Following the @CellC Sharks bye week, #OurSharks veteran @lwazimvovo is looking forward to getting back into the swing of things with the game against @GriquasRugby. #GRIvSHA #OurSharksForever pic.twitter.com/h1wUmHLtE6
“We were hurting after that loss, so we kept training, but also had a lot of team building. Now we are back this week and it is the business end of the competition. The Griquas in Kimberley is never easy, but the preparation has been great and the guys are excited about getting back into action.
"We know what to expect. They have nothing to lose ... it is their last game of the year. What we have to do is stick to our game plan.” And having played for the Sharks for 11 years, the youngsters will be looking to Mvovo to lead the way.
“There are a few of us seniors and it is important that we set an example,” Mvovo said. “It is about the continuation of the culture of the Sharks. When I got here, Odwa Ndungane and Stefan Terblanche were the seniors and they showed us the ropes, but at the end of the day every individual has the choice of whether or not to learn from the guys. Thankfully we have guys that want to learn and compete for positions in the team.”