Bashford happy with late win
Durban - Stand-in Sharks' coach Grant Bashford was relieved to have escaped with a victory over the Blues, after admitting it was a "tough week" building up to the 22-20 win in Durban on Saturday.
Riaan Viljoen’s last-minute try helped the coastal side complete a late Vodacom Super Rugby fight-back.
It following a disruptive lead-up to the clash at Kings Park, with coach John Plumtree stepping down after he was not offered a new contract.
"It’s been hugely tough, but we got together with the team on Thursday morning and said despite what happened, our focus needs to be on the next three games. You can’t dwell, you need to move on," said Bashford.
He was in charge of the team alongside fellow assistant Hugh-Reece Edwards.
"So, for us it was all about focusing purely on the Blues. That’s all we could do, but it has been tough for everyone."
First-half scores from Marcell Coetzee and Charl McLeod put the Sharks in control with a 17-5 lead at the interval, but an off-colour afternoon from Patrick Lambie allowed the visitors to fight back.
Frank Halai scored two tries, adding to one from Rene Ranger.
This gave them a three point lead with a minute to play, before Viljoen completed a patient attacking passage to snatch the win.
Captain Keegan Daniel spoke about playing for the former coach in the build-up.
Plumtree has drawn sympathy from many after his surprise axing by new CEO, former Springbok captain John Smit.
"It came out in the week from Keegan that they were playing for Plumtree and the coaches and it was a pretty emotional day," Bashford said.
"Even when things got tough, they worked hard and kept going.
"For seven years, Plumtree has been a huge part of this union, so when it comes from the captain, and he talks about it in the press, it obviously means something."
Bashford hailed the character of the team and the way they had fought to the death.
"We showed character to get the result. We could have given up, but didn’t and we scored in the last minute which was outstanding, a great effort which showed commitment and effort from the boys," Bashford said.
Although the Sharks climbed from 10th to ninth on the log, qualifying for the play-offs is highly unlikely as they will have to win their remaining two games with bonus points and hope other results work in their favour.
They play the Bulls next week, and end against the Kings in Durban on July 13.
"A big part of this week was focusing on one game at a time, although our mini-goal was the three remaining pool games," Bashford said.
"That’s the first one out of the way and the next is the Bulls up in Pretoria, never easy, but if we can play well, keep the ball and put them under pressure for long periods, we can beat anyone with this team."