Sharks miss their cutting edge
After their unlikely charge into the final, the Sharks' Super Rugby fairytale came to a brutal end in Hamilton where they were blown off the park by the Chiefs.
The Durban outfit emerged as the form side in the competition after the June international break, playing some breathtaking rugby to knock the Australian and South African conference champions out away from home on consecutive weekends, but ultimately their gruelling schedule caught up with them and they were handed a crushing 37-6 defeat in the final.
Victory would have made it the most remarkable campaign in Super Rugby history considering the obstacles they faced, but they were shut down by a Chiefs side that reaped the benefits of their impressive consistency this season to clinch their first title.
The Sharks started with their usual vigour and even had the Chiefs under pressure in the early stages, but failed to take advantage of their dominance as the ruthless streak that saw them defeat the Reds and the Stormers deserted them in the slippery conditions at the Waikato Stadium.
Sharks captain Keegan Daniel admitted that his side were simply not sharp enough against a clinical Chiefs outfit that took advantage of every mistake they made.
He said: "I think that is what finals rugby is about, you get so few opportunities to score points so you need to capitalise and although we dominated the game early on we did not convert that into points and when they got one or two opportunities they managed to get on the scoreboard.
"Ultimately what probably lost us the game was our conversion rate," Daniel explained.
The Sharks skipper said that the defeat was particularly hard to take considering his side's tough road to the final, but added that the Chiefs were clearly the better side on the day and deserved their resounding victory.
"It has been an incredible journey from where we were after the loss against the Lions, we clawed our way back into this competition and gave ourselves a chance so it is disappointing that tonight we just couldn't pull it off.
"The hurdle was just a bit too big, but no excuses I thought the Chiefs were outstanding tonight. they have been outstanding all season so they are deseved winners of the competition so hats off to Craig [Clarke] and his boys," he said.