DURBAN – A draw is obviously not a win, but it often favours one team over another, and with the 24-all draw in Durban it would have been the Waratahs with the slightly bigger smile. In fact, any smile would have been bigger than the one on Sharks coach Robert du Preez's face after the game.
Du Preez was posed the adage, ‘Did that feel like kissing your sister?’ to which the coach responded wholeheartedly that it was. Probably, for this young Sharks team, full of promise and potential, it was so much worse than that.
They walked away with two points, and a few good-looking tries, as well as some sparkling performances from their centres. But really, really, they should have won that game hands down.
Not only did they dominate every facet of play, including the scrums, which they shored up well after the Lions mauling, they took control of the entire match. They had territory, possession, apple opportunity, but lacked some game management, as well as the ability to finish off their chances.
This was highlighted not only by Du Preez post-match, but also by assistant coach Dick Muir at half-time. The attacking intent was there, almost too a fault as the Sharks continued to barrage the Waratahs line with a lead and only a few minutes to go, rather than seeing the game out.
But it was the inability to finish off passages of play that really burnt the coaches. Patience was the key word that came up post match, Du Preez stating that they lacked patience in their attack.
In defence, the Sharks were solid and well organised, never really under too much pressure. The tries that they did leak all came off their own mistakes, essentially gifting the Waratahs points.
The opening stanza saw a poor pass launched over flyhalf Robert du Preez’s head, forcing a defensive five metre scrum which resulted in a try.
Keegan Daniel’s decision to take a quick line-out to himself backfired abysmally and led to another try for the opposition off a Sharks error, and even the last try should not have happened as the Sharks decided to play the ball as they saw it, rather than tying things down and holing up for the final few minutes while in the lead.
It is a game that a lot will be learnt from, and perhaps that is what is needed, because the leadership group in the Sharks side did not take control when the going got tough. Next up is the Sunwolves, a team that does not slow things down, so how much patience will the Sharks have this time around?