Hard work awaits Sharks
REACTION: It was an inauspicious United Rugby Championship opener on Friday for the Sharks.
Following the disappointment of a mediocre inarguably URC season, a vast improvement is expected from Sharks head coach Sean Everitt and his men.
Last season the Sharks crashed out in the quarterfinals courtesy of a defeat to fellow South African side the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
The Durban-based side opened this season with a trip to Italy, where they recorded a narrow 42-37 win over the Zebre on Friday.
“We are really happy with the win,” Everitt said after the nail-biting win.
“The guys did really well to get the five points away from home in the first fixture.”
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The Sharks started the match in fine form and took control – storming a 28-3 lead after just 30 minutes.
However, lack of execution and defensive mistakes in the second half saw Zebre come back in sensational style after the break.
The Sharks were headed to an embarrassing loss, but a silly penalty conceded by Juan Pitinari that saved them.
“The first 40 minutes was really pleasing for us and we will take a lot of positives out of that – there was fantastic rugby played there,” Everitt said.
“Unfortunately the second half, knowing what happened to Leinster last week, we did not learn the same lesson and went a little off plan in our execution, kicking game and defence.
“We conceded seven penalties in the second half which is unacceptable, but they are fixable and we are just happy that we got the tour off to a good start.”
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While Everitt is really pleased with the full five points from their opening match of the season, he said there is a lot of hard graft ahead.
Last season they won only one out of four on tour.
“We will take this [win] but we know what we have to work on going into next week.”
The Sharks will be sweating over the availability of Aphelele Fassi.
The Bok left the field midway through the game and was replaced by Fred Zeilinga at fullback.
The Sharks face Dragon next week, before closing their tour with a match against the Leinster.