Mon 25 Apr 2022 | 11:24

Sharks need to eradicate soft moments with 'big games' looming

Sharks need to eradicate soft moments with 'big games' looming
Mon 25 Apr 2022 | 11:24
Sharks need to eradicate soft moments with 'big games' looming
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REACTION: Sharks coach Sean Everitt knows his team’s place in the top four of the United Rugby Championship is reliant on them eliminating some of the remaining problem areas.

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Round 16 was another productive weekend for South African teams, with three wins from four matches.

The Stormers are looking solid in second place behind the table-topping Leinster teams, with the Sharks in fourth place on the standings – while the Bulls remained in the eighth position.

The Sharks hung on grimly against the Irish giants Leinster in Durban to secure a bonus-point 28-23 win.

The four South African teams all have one more round of home matches and then will wrap up the round-robin stages with away matches in May – ahead of the play-offs.

With the Sharks sitting pretty in fourth place, ahead of Irish rivals Ulster on points difference, the two remaining league fixtures are vital in their quest for a top-eight finish and a spot in the European Cup next season.

“There are some big games ahead,” Everitt said of their encounters with Connacht in Durban this coming Saturday and Ulster in Belfast on May 20.

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The coach added that finishing in the top four and having home ground advantage in the play-offs is a major motivating factor.

He referenced their time in Super Rugby and how tough it was for South African teams to win knock-out games on the road.

Everitt made it clear his team has some key areas to work on if they are to realise their dream.

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The Sharks coach said the “alertness on the field” remains a key concern, despite bagging five crucial log points against Leinster.

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He said it is similar to what cost them dearly against Edinburgh – a 5-21 loss in monsoon-like conditions in Durban back in March.

“We dominated Edinburgh in every aspect of the game, but we didn’t get the result [win] because of lapses in concentration,” the Sharks coach said.

He said European teams are “very sharp” and will exploit any lapses by the opposition.

“There were soft moments,” Everitt said, adding: “We had opportunities of our own.”

The Sharks coach pointed to the cross-field kick, from a line-out, that resulted in the Tommy O’Brien try in the 35th minute.

“We were a bit late in covering that kick and they scored,” he said of a score that saw the visitors take a 17-7 lead towards the end of the first half.

“Those were the soft moments that put us under pressure on the scoreboard.”

The positives would be the performance of the starting front row and the pack in general, who laid the platform for the team to come back from a 10-point deficit to secure the win.

Everitt did not want to speak out about young Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli, who in only his second URC match seemed to be dishing out repeated warnings without any real consequences.

“It was a pressure game for the referee, because both teams wanted the win.”

The Sharks coach said they will “follow the processes” and get feedback from Tappe Henning.

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* Picture credit: @SharksRugby

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