Sharks coach Neill Powell rues turning point of Champions Cup quarter defeat

Sharks' Hyron Andrews with Emmanuel Meafou and Thibaud Flament of Stade Toulousa in in a maul

The Sharks were still in the game at that point and when Grant Williams finished off a movement he started to score his second try, in the 61st minute Seen here: Sharks' Hyron Andrews with Emmanuel Meafou and Thibaud Flament of Stade Toulousa in in a maul. Picture: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Published Apr 9, 2023

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Durban - Nobody can fault the Sharks for effort after their quarter-final Champions Cup loss in the south of France to Toulouse and director Neill Powell reckons the disallowed try by Grant Williams at the three-quarter mark was a telling blow.

The Sharks were still in the game at that point and when Williams finished off a movement he started to score his second try, in the 61st minute, there was hope that the Sharks could pull off an upset.

But Williams’ initial pass to Thomas du Toit was forward. The Sharks looked like they would get the rub of the green but the local television broadcaster played it over and over again on the stadium's big screen until it caught the referee’s eye. Curwin Bosch had already taken the conversion when the referee, at last, asked to see it.

The disallowing of that try was a sucker punch to the Sharks and the wind dropped out of their sails. Toulouse then turned on the after-burners and ran in a host of tries to eventually win 54-20.

“The turning point was Grant Williams’ second try which was not awarded due to a forward pass by him to Thomas,” Powell said. “If we could have scored there, it would have created renewed momentum that we could have carried through into that final quarter.

“Nevertheless, the guys put everything in and showed tremendous fighting spirit. They played their hearts out.”

Toulouse scored four tries in the final 10 minutes and the more the Sharks tried to chase the game, the more the error-strewn their play became.

“It was particularly disappointing as we had been extremely competitive for so long and with barely 20 minutes to go we still had a chance to win,” Powell said.

“When you play in the knockout rounds of a competition like the Champions Cup against an excellent team like Toulouse, who know what it takes to be successful, you have to be more clinical and try to limit mistakes.”

Powell has a big job on his hands now as the Sharks return home for a vital United Rugby Championship game against Benetton in Durban on Friday night.

@MikeGreenaway67

IOL Sport