Sharks hope for fiery display
THE rugby gods have been cruel to the Sharks this year and it almost seems a waste that their second bye comes right at the end of the season.
In a campaign blighted by serious injuries and player bans, the Durban outfit could have benefitted from having their byes earlier in the first 10 rounds. Instead, they had to wade through an injury crisis to their second row and half-back pairing as their byes only came in round 11 and 17.
With one game left to play against the Stormers next week, the Sharks have played 15 and lost nine games and sit in 11th place on the log. The season was all but over after the Sharks were hammered by the Crusaders at home in April — but after breaking their losing run in their final tour match against the Reds, the Sharks have promised to end the season on a winning streak.
Friday night’s 25-21 win over the Rebels served up a mixture of positives and negatives for the Durban outfit. A number of individuals played exceptionally well but that was marred by some lapses on defence — a factor that has plagued the Sharks all year.
Director of rugby Gary Gold wasn’t exactly over the moon after the match. Although he was relieved with the win, he believed his side could have been more clinical and should have managed to score a bonus point try.
“We were really disappointed not to get the fourth try but grateful for the win. Again, I hoped and believed we had turned the corner in terms of character overseas and it was very important that even though we are out of competition, we show that it matters a lot. It was a tough week off the field with injuries; we lost a lot of key guys at moments we didn’t expect. Losing Willem Alberts and Ryan Kankowski was tough, but when you see a guy like Khaya [Majola] come in and take his opportunity, it’s really heart-warming and I’m very happy for him,” Gold said.
Both Alberts and Kankowski should be ready for next week’s clash against the Stormers, but the performances of the Sharks’ young and upcoming players bodes well for the Currie Cup and next year’s Super Rugby season.
With an exodus of senior players about to take place, Gold was asked whether fans are about to witness a change of an era.
“I think whether I see it like that or not — it is the way it goes. You get to keep squads together that go on to become amazing groups. Gary Teichmann’s years, John Smit’s years and even Craig Jamieson’s years — that group came a long way together and became epic Sharks teams,” Gold said.
“Dick Muir’s year in charge in 2007 when they got to the final and so nearly won and obviously Plum winning his Currie Cup — there have been a lot of great groups of Sharks but unfortunately guys come and go. I am very sad that the boys are leaving but that’s how it goes. It means new opportunities and we’ve done well in terms of recruiting youngsters in the last few years.”
“They deserve an opportunity now and it is in a way a dawn of a new era, but I must say that it doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to win trophies immediately — we’re going to need time in the middle and I anticipate a tough few months ahead.
“But if they work hard and show that they want to play for the jersey as much as Khaya did, then we are in a healthy place,” Gold said.
The side will rest and recuperate this week before a final stand at King’s Park next week.
Despite the performance of upcoming youngsters on Friday, fans won’t want to miss the swan song of a number of Sharks stalwarts, who will be playing their final match for the franchise. The Du Plessis brothers and Alberts will run out in front of the King’s Park faithful a final time — given the latter is fit to play next week.
Pat Lambie could also be available next week