Sharks 'had no respect for the ball' in Galway
REACTION: Sharks coach Joey Mongalo believes crucial turnovers in the strike zone ultimately proved costly for his team in their 12-24 defeat to Connacht in Galway on Saturday.
The Durban franchise sent a new-look team to Ireland with Currie Cup coach Mongalo taking charge of the team after Director of Rugby Neil Powell and his Springbok stars stayed behind to prepare for a big Champions Cup clash against Union Bordeaux-Bègles.
With also those changes, the Sharks looked out of sorts in difficult conditions and they found themselves 0-19 down going into the break.
After going 24 points behind in the second half, the Sharks showed some fight in the final squad to score two tries to add some respectability to the scoreline.
“I felt that we fought really well in the first 30 minutes and then also in that last 20 minutes of the game,” said Mongalo.
“I thought it was in the middle sections where we lost the game.
“At 0-12 down, into the wind and rain, with 38 minutes gone, I thought we will still be in the game, then we gave away a turnover when we were about to score.
“They kicked the ball down the field that led to them going 19-0 up. Similarly, just after half-time we were on the front foot in their half, got a turnover again and they kicked it downfield and we got charged down.
“For me, that is where the game changed.
“Those two moments were massive moments.
“Either side of those moments I thought the guys fought really well. We asked them for effort, we asked them for physicality.
“They gave us effort, but they could have given us more physicality.”
Mongalo believes the missed opportunities in the strike zone showed some of his team’s weaknesses with ball in hand.
“We were on the front foot about to score and we had no respect for the ball, they took the ball and before you know it, we were on the other side.
“That is probably the area of improvement. When we do have a sniff at this level you have to value the ball and you give yourself the best chance to get points on the board in one form or the other.”
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The hammer blow
After Rohan Janse van Rensburg’s try in the 60th minute, the Sharks thought they were in again moments later via Kerron van Vuuren. However, the try was disallowed for offside after Lionel Cronje already took the conversion.
Mongalo believes that was another big hammer blow.
“If the score was 14-24 with 20 to go and we got the wind and we got the rain then we would have backed ourselves. But when they called us back after the conversion that was quite a physiological shot in the gut for us and we took a long time to get over it,” Mongalo explained.
“We scored about eight to 10 minutes later. By that time there were only 10 minutes left in the game and the game was all but gone by then.”
Mongalo also explained the decision to play into the wind and the rain in the first half.
“We chose to play into the wind and the rain in the first half because we felt that while we were still fresh we could absorb a lot of the pressure that they were going to bring on attack,” said the coach.
“Again, I think we did that really well for 20 to 25 minutes.
“If you look at the try they scored it was a chip kick and I think the other was off the back of a line-out maul, so those are two things we could have avoided for sure.
“The conditions were really tough and when we had the conditions in the second half I thought we struggled to get going.”