’We know what we need to do to win,’ says Sharks coach ahead of Ospreys clash
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Durban – just one win in eight starts, it has been an inauspicious start for the South African teams in the United Rugby Championship, but the Sharks can break the drought on Friday night in Cardiff against the Ospreys (8.35pm) if they can pick up where they left off against Glasgow last week.
The Sharks found themselves 30 points down before half time but fought back to outscore the Warriors 14-7 in the second half and earn a respectable 35-24 final scoreline.
Coach Sean Everitt says his team has had a shell-shocked start to the URC, but is learning fast.
“It has been a very tough start to a new international competition for our teams and I think it is because you are playing a different brand of rugby and in a different part of the world,” Everitt said. “South Africans have to be realistic — our teams have not played international competition for 20 months.
“Nobody is making excuses but it does play a role. Most franchise have brought a lot of youngsters with them and they are learning against international class players,” Everitt explained. “We have 12 senior players out — that is nearly a whole team — but the silver lining is that the guys who are being forced to learn quickly will stand us in good stead in the future.”
The Sharks are indeed missing raft of Boks who would make a huge difference to their fortunes, the likes of Siya Kolisi, Bongi Mbonambi, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Ox Nche and Sikhambuzo Notshe, plus new Boks in Jaden Hendrikse and Grant Williams.
“Obviously being away first up in the URC is not ideal, but we had to tour some time and doing it first has proved a massive learning experience, and I only call it a loss if you don’t learn from it,” Everitt continued.
“And a lot has been learned and we have improved immensely over the last two games, and we have a good understanding of what we need to do to win over here, and we go into the Ospreys game with very good preparation.”
Everitt pointed that the South African teams are discovering that they are getting far less opportunities to play off turnovers than they were getting when they played each other in the Rainbow Cup and Currie Cup.
“Unfortunately the opposition does not give you the turnovers and penalties or anywhere near as many opportunities that we get in South Africa,” the coach said. “These overseas team are very disciplined, as you would have noticed, and they really look after the ball well.
“So the opportunities you do get, you have to make good use of it because you can’t take it for granted that you will get a second, third or fourth bite, so it is about being clinical and playing in the right areas so at the same time you don’t put yourself under pressure.”
Tonight, the Ospreys will be a different type of opposition to the Warriors in that they kick a lot more than the Glaswegians and play at a slower pace.
“The Ospreys are super-conservative, they don’t give you much and average just seven penalties a game which is substantially below the average,” Everitt acknowledged, “So it is a major challenge for our forwards. Our guys like ball-in-hand rugby and we are actually very good at it, but we need to get the opportunities.”
Sharks: 15 Anthony Volmink 13 Marnus Potgieter 13 Jeremy Ward 12 Marius Louw 11 Thaakir Abrahams 10 Boeta Chamberlain 9 Ruan Pienaar 8 Henco Venter 7 Gerbrandt Grobler 6 James Venter 5 Hyron Andrews 4 Ruben van Heerden 3 Thomas du Toit (capt) 2 Kerron van Vuuren 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Substitutes: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Dylan Richardson, 22 Sanale Nohamba, 23 Werner Kok