DURBAN - One of South Africa’s most experienced players, Tendai Mtawarira, reckons Saturday’s Super Rugby clash between the Sharks and the Bulls at Kings Park is going to be a belter of a game between a team desperate to build on recent form and an opposition determined to prove themselves.
The Sharks will be shattered if their good form in New Zealand is cancelled by a loss at home, while the Bulls are in the starting blocks to climb the points ladder, having already had two byes - and thus have plenty of games in hand.
“Yeah, this is going to be a cracker,” the 32-year-old loosehead prop said. “Their motivation is going to be huge, but so will ours. It was horrible when we lost those games in Australia, so we decided to rather go down fighting in New Zealand than to stand back and let the opposition control possession and the game.
“We made a collective decision to keep the ball in hand,” the Beast continued. “Against the Rebels we let them keep the ball and dominate us up front, and the result was 50 points. You can’t play rugby when you are doing all the defending, so we changed our mindset. No more defending and a lot more attacking.”
As it turned out, the Sharks returned with eight log points - nothing to get excited about when you look at the log, but more important is the form the Sharks discovered.
“The tour was poor in terms of results, but it ended with us showing what we are all about,” Mtawarira said. “Against the Hurricanes we showed how well we can play, and that we can be contenders.
"We learned we have to be smart in how we finish games. But the big thing is that we are getting cohesion in our game, and now have to make sure we keep playing the same way in a home derby. We want to put in a massive performance against the Bulls in front of our home crowd.”
A significant plus for the Sharks was that their pack left Durban a month ago seemingly stuck in reverse gear, but they have come back having dominated the Blues and Hurricanes up front.
“We are a work in progress. We stuck to our guns and concentrated on getting a little better each week. And we have done,” he said. “It is going to be two dynamic attacks up against each other, and that means fireworks.”