VIDEO: Boks' attitude provided the spark for impressive win
REACTION: Sharks coach Sean Everitt said he was “very happy” with the performance and impact his returning Springboks had on the team in Friday’s impressive 30-16 win over the Bulls.
Bulls coach Jake White’s pre-match prediction proved to be prophetic.
Trailing 9-13 at half-time, the Sharks’ big-name Boks stepped up and they dominated the second half.
The Sharks’ Springbok-laden pack had the better of the Bulls in the set pieces, especially in the scrums – which resulted in a string of penalties and eventually a yellow card for replacement Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka.
The Sharks simply had too much class for the visitors and their star power saw them well clear in the end in a game that also marked the United Rugby Championship’s debut on South African soil.
The Sharks coach spoke of the importance of set-piece dominance in the testing conditions and Durban humidity.
“We all know set pieces are one of three things you need to win games,” Everitt told a post-match media briefing, adding: “Our set pieces certainly functioned.”
The other aspects are territory (which the Sharks shaded 53 percent to 47 percent) and defence – the hosts having a 91 percent tackle success rate to the Bulls’ 87 percent.
However, the most significant factor was the return of a number of Springboks, who made a “huge difference”.
“They came through really well,” the coach said, adding: “Lukhanyo Am got Man of the Match and he has played 80 [minutes] in every match he played for South Africa this year.
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“What is most pleasing about the Boks coming back is their attitude.
“These guys came back really well prepared.
“The stuff we gave them while they were overseas was thoroughly studied.
“It was a smooth transition having them back in the fold.
“That’s what you expect from Springboks.
“Sometimes we have been really worried about the attitude that some Boks had come back to training with, so it is really pleasing.
“What Rassie [Erasmus] and Jacques [Nienaber] have created at the Boks is something really special.
“We are looking forward to those guys rubbing shoulders with our youngsters and teaching them the right way.”
The Sharks coach said his Springboks will now be ‘rewarded’ for their efforts with a proper break – returning to training only after Christmas.
The rest of the squad will train next week, before getting their break over Christmas – with everybody expected to return on December 27.
There is still uncertainty about their trip to Italy for a January 8 clash with Benetton.
“All the Boks put their hands up.
“Siya [Kolisi] played a good 80 minutes.
“Bongi [Mbonambi] has come in seamlessly and settled like he has been here for years.
“That is his character and his personality. He is a very popular member of the team and he has only just been here for two weeks.
“He had a really good game, he was strong defensively and the set pieces worked out in our favour.”