FILE - Sharks coach Sean Everitt. Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images via BackpagePix
FILE - Sharks coach Sean Everitt. Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images via BackpagePix

Sharks coach: Our forwards were manhandled and didn’t have an answer for dominant Bulls

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published May 16, 2021

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CAPE TOWN – As early as the ninth minute at Loftus Versfeld, Sharks hooker Fez Mbatha went down injured.

He had courageously tried to stop a rampaging Bulls flank Marco van Staden, who had burst away from a lineout drive and went charging straight into Mbatha, who’s head made contact with his opponent’s knee.

Mbatha stayed down for a while, and later copped a blow to his shoulder as well. He eventually made way for Kerron van Vuuren in the final quarter, battered and bruised.

It was that kind of night for the Sharks pack as the Bulls heavyweights climbed in during the 43-9 Rainbow Cup victory. It was still tight at 12-9 at halftime, but the home side sped away in the second half, scoring four tries as well for a bonus point.

ALSO READ: Jake White praises Bulls ‘Bomb Squad’ for trampling Sharks

The Sharks were competitive in the scrums, but were just unable to handle the physicality of the Bulls.

“The Bulls forwards were outstanding in the second half, and they physically dominated the Sharks. So, that’s where it all started. We conceded penalties or lost possession in good areas of the field – the Bulls turned it around and kicked it out on the halfway line,” coach Sean Everitt said afterwards.

“We battled to stop their maul, and they earned penalty after penalty. So, it was really difficult to stop. But ja, just disappointed with how we got manhandled in the second half.

“I don’t know what the penalty count was, but it’s not quite as bad as it was last weekend, and the week before. We conceded scrum penalties, we conceded maul penalties, and what that does is it just compounds the problem, because they might kick to the corner and maul again.

ALSO READ: Bulls land second-half knock-out punch to tame Sharks

“But yes, the Bulls forwards were outstanding, and like I said, they dominated us physically. We didn’t have an answer.”

The penalty count was 16-7 in the Bulls’ favour, with Jake White’s team also making more carries (87-50) and offloads (11-3), according to SuperSport’s post-match statistics.

Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen had noted in the post-match TV interview that his team “knew we were going to get a couple of high balls” as the Sharks “don’t really play rugby in their half”, and the incessant kicking from halfbacks Jaden Hendrikse and Curwin Bosch meant that their lethal backline were not unleashed.

But Everitt felt that the game plan wasn’t the problem. “I thought the guys stuck to the plan well enough in the first half, and we fired all the shots. The Bulls didn’t look like scoring in the first half, and the chat at halftime was that we continue to stick to the plan, and not deviate from it,” he said.

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“We didn’t really get an opportunity (to play more ball-in-hand in the second half). We didn’t have much possession in the second half, and when we did get ourselves into a good position on the field, we got penalised either at scrum-time, or we conceded a lineout turnover.

“So ja, I don’t think it was the plan that went wrong in the second half. I think it was just the fundamentals that we didn’t get right.

“The source of the three tries in the second half came from our attack in their 22. We lost two lineouts, five metres out, and we were penalised at scrum-time, which then turned into the Bulls scoring. I’m just disappointed about how we ended up getting dominated that way.”

Now Lukhanyo Am and his team, who are on 10 log points and trail the Bulls by three, will hope to pick up the pieces against the Stormers at Kings Park on Saturday (1pm kickoff).

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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