Plaudits for record-breaking Beast
SUPER RUGBY REACTION: The plaudits flowed freely for Sharks prop Tendai Mtawarira, who celebrated a record 157th appearance by a South African player.
The Beast, as he is affectionately known, played a big hand in the Sharks’ impressive 42-5 humiliation of the Lions in Johannesburg on Friday.
The 33-year-old, with 107 Springbok Test caps, scrummed impressively and made several breaks before being substituted eight minutes into the second half at Ellis Park.
Mtawarira overtook retired national team captain and hooker Adriaan Strauss, whose 156 appearances came with the Central Cheetahs and Northern Bulls.
“We dedicate this victory to the Beast,” said Sharks scrumhalf and skipper Louis Schreuder, referring to the Zimbabwe-born forward.
Sharks coach Robert du Preez said his team owed Mtawarira a performance to be proud of.
The Sharks outscored the home team by six tries to one and managed to win their first game against South African opposition this year – after losing 11-16 to the Stormers in Durban in Round Three in March, which was followed by a 14-37 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria and a 16-19 defeat loss to the Bulls in Durban at the end of March.
“I’m just so pleased we did it for Beast [Mtawarira],” the coach said.
“He is just an amazing person – the most humble person you can ever meet. [He is] an inspiration for all his teammates [and] at the end of the day the boys played for him,” Du Preez added.
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The coach and captain said the humiliation of the Lions was a long time coming.
The result in a wet Johannesburg could have been even more one-sided had Sharks flyhalf Robert du Preez not missed three of five kicks at goal.
“No performance is ever complete, but it was a pretty good performance been a long time coming,” Du Preez said.
“The Lions are a quality side, but I think everything we’ve worked on over the last seven weeks or so came together.
“Last week against the Bulls all the stats went our way, except the game, and I knew it [a big performance] was going to happen sometime,” the coach added.
The Sharks bossed the Lions at scrum time and dominated the home team in the physical exchanges.
“I thought our set-pieces were outstanding. We didn’t give away any silly penalties. It’s something that we worked really hard on.
“The discipline of the boys was fantastic.”
The captain, Schreuder, said the team was sharper than in some of their recent matches and defended superbly.
“This performance has been a long time coming,” the scrumhalf said.
“Now we must become consistent.”
The Sharks next game is a Round Nine clash against the Jaguares in Durban next Saturday and Du Preez added that they face a tough challenge against the Buenos Aires-based.
“It’s reset on Monday back to the basics again. The Jaguares is a great team,” said Du Preez.
Lions skipper and hooker Malcolm Marx admitted they were outplayed in suffering a second heavy home loss this season after an 18-point drubbing by the Bulls.
“I think we got inside the Sharks’ 22 twice in the whole match – that is how bad it was,” Marx said.
“There are no excuses, because we were outplayed from start to finish.”
@rugby365com & AFP