Lwazi Mvovo of the Sharks is tackled by Johnny McNicholl of the Crusaders during their nail-biting Super Rugby stand-off in Durban. Photo: MUZI NTOMBELA

As plucky as the Sharks were against the Crusaders at Kings Park at the weekend, there was an inevitably about the result given that the New Zealanders were doing all the attacking, and the black and white dam wall could not hold out forever.

It took until the 72nd minute for All Black No 8 Kieran Read to score the try that gave his side what would be a match-winning lead, but if it had not been for two against the-run-of play tries by Lwazi Mvovo, not to mention errant goal-kicking by the Crusaders, the Kiwis would have been out of sight long before the final 10 minutes. “We did not deserve to win the game, it as simple as that,” coach Gary Gold said.

“We had aimed to play a much more attacking game but for a number of reasons we did not have enough possession and had to rely on our defence to keep us in the game.”

Gold said that in the first half, especially, his team kicked badly and struggled in the set pieces before improving in the second half. The Sharks could yet have snatched it when Willie le Roux scampered after a probing kick-ahead from Cobus Reinach, gathered and scored, only to be thwarted by the TMO, who decreed that the fullback was ahead of the kicker.

Gold said that he was not happy with all the decisions the TMO made in the game but declined to elaborate.

“We did not lose because of the TMO. We lost because the Crusaders were better than us, there is no constructive purpose in harping on about the officials because there is nothing you can do about it.

“I would rather concentrate on the things we can fix on the training field, such as the set pieces, the execution of our kicking and generally looking after the ball far better than we have been doing.”

The Sharks have a bye this week and put their feet up after a productive five weeks that has seen them win three matches, draw one and lose one with a bonus point for being with seven of the winners.

Gold was asked to compare the status quo with where the Sharks were this time last year, when the Crusaders had beaten them by 42 points and a number of senior players had got themselves suspended. “I am very positive” Gold said.

“I detest that saying ‘I would have taken this scenario if you had offered it to me pre-season’ because it is so negative, and we are a very positive squad,” he said.

“The potential of this team is enormous. We are a rebuilding side and need time in the middle, and we are getting that, discovering our weakness and strengths, and have the resolve to fix what needs to be fixed.”

“The hunger and urgency is there and you can’t really ask for more from the players.

I said at the beginning of the season that we wanted to change our mindset and show character after last year’s poor performances. And even the most disappointed Sharks fan after this defeat can’t question the character.

“We want the players to know that the coaching staff backs them and that they must bring the character. If we carry on with this attitude, we will build confidence. I am very proud of how we have responded after last year.”

The Mercury