Sharks still aiming to improve
Sean Everitt (Gallo Images)
Durban - The Sharks are looking ahead to their Currie Cup clash with the Blue Bulls in Pretoria on Friday believing that they aren’t the finished product yet.
According to Sharks website editor, Michael Marnewick
, as the Sharks contemplate their successes, particularly over the past
two weeks, this probably bodes well for them as they prepare for the knockout stages of the competition.
The Sharks, who have already qualified for the semi-finals, may have taken their match with their Pretoria-based counterparts a little more lightly had they not managed to salvage their campaign with a 52-10 thrashing
of Griquas last week.
The fact that the Bulls are very much still in the hunt for a playoff berth adds spice to the occasion as well as make the Sharks' quest to secure a home semi-final that much more trickier.
Sharks backline coach Sean Everitt admitted after the match against the Lions that he was proud of the team’s accomplishment, but acknowledged that there are still some areas of their game they would like to polish.
"It’s not easy to go up to Ellis Park and get a result, the last time we won up there was 2009, so I guess we got a bit of a bogey off our backs," he said.
"And I thought the guys really did well at the end to keep the Lions from scoring.
"We’re very happy with the result, but at the same time we certainly have a lot of work to do.
"We have a few things to sort out this week ahead of the Bulls game in Pretoria."
The Sharks started the match brightly, only to have the Lions claw their way back into the game which is not something that they want to be happening.
"We turned a good start into a nice lead, but our defence let us down at stages and we allowed them back at us.
"But once again, the guys showed tremendous character to keep the Lions out in the second half, particularly in the last five minutes of the game when they were threatening our line.
"We showed a lot of composure and fought for a good win in the end.
"The guys have shown character throughout the campaign, they’ve shown great character to come back from behind and winning some of the game, even if they were small margins.
"We are a happy group and obviously that’s showing."
He added that there were some good performances from the youngsters in the team, with debutant Stephan Lewies putting in a very credible performance at this level.
"Stephan came in from the Under 21s and although he had been training with us, it was a huge step-up for him, playing Currie Cup rugby, in Johannesburg, against a side who pride themselves on their set-piece and against a very good lock in Franco van der Merwe.
"He did himself proud and made a huge contribution."
Although there were no injury issues to cloud the win, there are going to be changes this weekend which was mooted weeks ago anyway.
"We don’t have any injuries after the game but we do have guys coming back from rotation.
"Jacques Botes will be equalling the South African Currie Cup record (Helgard Muller has 142 caps, Botes has 115 for the Sharks and 26 for the Pumas), Jean Deysel
returns as well and Keegan Daniel
is playing in his 100th Currie Cup game which is a fantastic achievement in itself."
With the Springboks playing their final Rugby Championship Test match this weekend, there is the hope that there will be a release of players back to their unions who are not involved.
"We’ll know later in the week if we’re going to have the services of Marcell Coetzee
and Pieter-Steph du Toit," Everitt confirmed,
"But we’re planning around not having them available to us.
"If either of them are released, it will be on Wednesday, so they will join up with us on Thursday in Johannesburg for our final practice ahead of Friday’s game."Teams:Blue Bulls:
15 Jurgen Visser
14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith
, 12 Francois Venter
, 11 Bjorn
Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige
, 8 Jono Ross
Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg
, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Paul
Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten
, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
16 Bandise Maku
, 17 Dean Greyling
, 18 Grant Hattingh
, 19 Jacques
Engelbrecht, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Ulrich Beyers
, 22 Sampie MastrietSharks: