Sharks let down by defence
Cape Town - They returned to winning ways against the Reds last weekend, but the Sharks will still be haunted by a poor Super Rugby season when they host the Melbourne Rebels in Durban on Friday night.
The biggest problem that the Durban lads have faced this season? A leaky defence.
That is at least the view from the outside, and coach Gary Gold has confirmed that defensive issues were a problem well before the Australasian tour.
"No one has denied that our defence leading up to the tour had been woeful. There were definitely situations that were well below our standards, that all capitulated in the Crusaders game (Sharks lost 52-10 at home)," Gold told The Witness newspaper this week.
"When we had the opportunity to tour we sat down and put focus on areas we believed were important, none more so than the defence.
"That was a combined decision. It was not one person's fault or reason why the defence wasn't working. There are numerous reasons why it doesn't function.
"We're still very disappointed in the Highlanders' performance, a couple of soft tries in the game and we felt that everything capitulated from there."
But despite three successive losses on tour to the Highlanders, Hurricanes and Waratahs the Sharks came home with a gritty 21-14 win over the Reds.
"It was important for numerous reasons; we worked hard for the full four weeks on tour and how desperately they deserved some reward. It wasn't the best performance but was pretty effective," Gold said of that win.
"There are still areas to work on that we feel were sub-standard, but at this stage of the year it was a very important victory and I'm proud of how the guys stuck to their task.
"From our point of view, we have two home games and we know for the continuity of the Union how critically important it is that we continue on winning ways."
Kick-off on Friday night is at 19:10.
15. Lwazi Mvovo, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. S’bura Sithole, 10. Lionel Cronje, 9. Stefan Ungerer, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts / Etienne Oosthuizen, 6. Renaldo Bothma, 5. Marco Wentzel (captain), 4. Mouritz Botha, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Matt Stevens, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20. Etienne Oosthuizen / Khaya Majola, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Fred Zeilinga, 23. Heimar Williams