Sharks season still a 'success'
REACTION: The Sharks may have fallen short in the Currie Cup Final, but coach Sean Everitt is adamant their season has been a ‘success’.
Speaking after their 19-26 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria at the weekend, Everitt stoutly defended his players.
Seasoned flank Arno Botha scored 73 seconds from the end of extra time to secure the win at Loftus Versfeld – a 19-phase attack by the Pretoria outfit that ended with the replacement looser forward barging over to bring the most prized domestic trophy back to the Bulls after a 12-year absence.
It was the second try of the match for the 29-year-old Springbok, who left the Bulls in 2017 for Europe, with the first bringing the pre-match favourites back into contention.
Although Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch had an off-day with the boot, missing six kicks at goal, his side built a 19-9 lead 55 minutes into a title decider.
That advantage for the Durban side shrunk to just three points with 15 minutes remaining – when a tap penalty by No.8 and captain Duane Vermeulen set up Botha to score.
The Sharks retained the three-point lead until one minute from time when replacement flyhalf Chris Smith kicked a penalty to take the final into 20 minutes of extra time.
Bosch and Smith missed penalty attempts during the additional time before Botha struck again with just over a minute of additional time remaining.
The Sharks mentor was adamant that you can’t base the success of a season on just one game.
“You can never do that, because there’s so much that’s happened between the beginning of 2020 until the end of January 2021,” Everitt told a virtual post-match media briefing.
“There have been players that have been given an opportunity,” he said, adding: “There have been players that have come in and done exceptionally well.
“The players have grown as a squad – the leadership role has grown and players have matured.
“The culture in our squad has grown exceptionally.
“There is a lot of success that’s happened. Everyone wrote us off when we played in the semifinal and we get to the Final and we pushed the Bulls to the 100th minute, so I’m really proud of the guys and yes this season was a success – it definitely was.”
The coach also had plenty of praise for his captain, World Cup-winning Springbok Lukhanyo Am.
“Lukhanyo, as I’ve said before, is a great leader,” Everitt said, adding: “He’s quiet the way he goes about his job.
“He’s got a tremendous amount of respect from his peers and his fellow players. The coaching staff also respects him.
“He’s a respectful guy and I think his leadership in tough times has been quite outstanding.”
Despite his horror show off the kicking tee, the coach still backed his flyhalf, Bosch.
Landing just five of his 11 attempts at goal, Everitt said he was ‘not’ disappointed.
“He’s done it time and time again for us this year. It’s like golfers – you sometimes have a bad day. Maybe he wasn’t up to the standard that we’re used to.
“That guy has been amazing for us. He pulled us out of the trenches before and unfortunately in this match it didn’t go his way.”