Vodacom Super Rugby
Sharks breathe sigh of relief
Bismarck du Plessis (File)
Durban - Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis said his side were relieved after pulling off a crucial 34-20 win against the Cheetahs in their Vodacom Super Rugby derby in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
"We are under a lot of pressure to perform and keep ourselves in contention," said Du Plessis, who was voted man of the match.
"This was a game we had to win and we pulled it through."
The Sharks had to make do without young flyhalf Patrick Lambie, but his French replacement, Frederik Michalak, scored 19 points to pave the way to victory.
The visitors played well for the full 80 minutes and finally scored a much needed bonus-point try when replacement Meyer Bosman touched down in the corner.
Bosman finished off after winger Lwazi Mvovo, who had a blinder of a game, beat four of the home side's defenders.
"We are really happy with the victory and even more so with the bonus point," said Sharks captain Keegan Daniel.
"These South African derbies are always tough and we knew the Cheetahs would take the game to us.
"I am proud of the way the boys handled themselves."
Despite the loss, there were some positives for Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske, with flyhalf Riaan Smit and captain Adriaan Strauss, at hooker, producing solid all-round performances.
Their lacklustre defence, however, was one area of concern for the coach.
"We gave them way too much possession, especially at the breakdowns," Drotske said.
"Our defence was never really up to scratch."
Strauss gave no excuses for his team's defeat.
The hosts struggled in the second half, but really only lost the match in the last 20 minutes.
"It was a tough game, as we knew it would be," Strauss said.
"It didn't ever feel like we were really in contention.
"We never took charge of our attack and also defended pretty poorly at times. The Sharks deserved the victory."
Strauss, however, said the Cheetahs could take some positives into their next game against the Waratahs.
"Our discipline was very good. It is one of few positives," he said.
"There is a tough week ahead of us.
"We have to work hard in order to rectify what went wrong against the Sharks."