'Pleasing performance' for new Sharks coach
REACTION: New Sharks coach Sean Everitt was ‘pleased’ with his team’s first hit-out of the year.
A Sharks XV invitational team – comprising club players, junior players and even six recent schoolboys – narrowly went down 26-31 to NWU Pukke at Kings Park on Friday.
The youthful combination – including Under 19 and Under 21 players, coached by Mike Vowles and Phiwe Nomlomo – held a 19-5 half-time lead.
In the headline match, the Sharks defeated the visiting Russian national team.
The match formed part of the 2020 Super Rugby pre-season warm-up schedule and the team, which did not feature the Sharks Springboks, certainly delivered a statement of intent – winning 64-14, after leading 26-7 at half-time.
“It was a pleasing performance,” Everitt said.
“We used 30 players and the fact that all 30 put up their hands for selection is a massive plus for us.
“The quality of rugby played in tough conditions was exciting for me and the players showed composure and executed accurately in the game situation what we’ve trained for over the pre-season,” Everitt added.
“We are definitely on the right track although there are always things to work on and we do need to polish up a few things.
“But as far as the tweaks we made, we know we’ve made progress in the right direction and certainly improved in areas we identified that needed work.
“The reality check is always the first game and we’re happy with where we are. Also, the fact that there were no injuries.”
Although the scoreline was very big, Everitt admitted that the World Cup participants had certainly come to play.
“It was a game of two halves and I think the Russian team was stronger in the first half than the one they put out in the second half.
“They’re a very physical team and it was pleasing that we were able to stand up to their physicality which is a plus for us. I just think the energy and tempo we played with was a bit much for them though.”
The Sharks face two more pre-season outings – against Russia next Friday and the Stormers in the Super Sunday double-header in Soweto.
They get their 2020 campaign underway when they face the Bulls in Durban on Friday, January 31.
Picture credit: @HowardCleland3