Big showdown in Durban looming to settle scores
REACTION: The Sharks face the Lions in the Currie Cup in Durban on Saturday and coach Joey Mongalo says they have a score to settle with the men from Johannesburg on and off the field.
The Sharks managed to grind out a hard fought win over the Griffons in Welkom over the weekend after trailing at half-time but they managed to put out a strong second half scoring four tries on the trot with one disallowed.
With the win Mongalo’s team stamped their authority in this years’ competition and they are firmly placed at the top of the log, followed by the Cheetahs two points behind.
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— The Sharks (@SharksRugby) May 29, 2023
Mongalo and defence coach Philip Lemmer both coached at the Lions previously and have, like a lot of others, left the embattled franchise for various reasons.
The latest coach to leave was Albert van den Berg who was very outspoken about the issues he encountered with the Lions which resulted in him not renewing his contract.
The Sharks coach, talking to media after the Griffons game, alluded to some untoward treatment after their first match-up against the Lions at Ellis Park earlier in the season.
“We are men who take pride in what we do. The last time we played them in Johannesburg, the result didn’t go well with us and there are also one or two things that happened off the field that we want to make right.
“So it’s going to be just as personal for them as it is for us. We do have a proud record at home, so it’s something that we want to uphold,” Mongalo said.
“The Lions clash is almost like a quarter final for them, so they have to beat us to stay alive. Everybody knows the character of the Lions from the years of Johan Ackermann. When the chips are down, they probably play the best rugby, so we are expecting nothing short of their best performance of the year,” the Sharks coach predicted.
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There was a changing of the guard as @SharksRugby took pole position this weekend 🔝🦈ADVERTISEMENT
— The Currie Cup (@TheCurrieCup) May 29, 2023
Mongalo said they did what was needed in Welkom, namely to secure a semifinal spot, but acknowledged that it was a tough outing.
“It was a character building win because to come from behind to win like that, shows a lot of character. History tells us that it hasn’t been easy (in Welkom). The Bulls lost (against them) and other teams have struggled to win there. They are a different beast when they play at home.
“I think they gave us something that we haven’t seen in this competition before, so congrats to them. I think it is more about acknowledging that they played well than our own frustrations.
“The second half was probably the same plan, just executed better with more desire, more hunger, more fight, just more. That was the difference between the two halves.
“And it helps to bring on the type of bench we had. And it’s probably unfair to the Griffons, who didn’t have that much on the bench that we had.”
Mongalo said it is great to have a Saturday fixture this week.
“We will have a full week to prepare, which is something we haven’t had in a long time.”