Du Preez laments impatient Sharks

    2018-02-19 10:03

    Lloyd Burnard

    Cape Town - The Sharks, having promised so much in pre-season, did themselves few favours in a 26-19 loss to the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday. 

    Having recruited smartly in the off-season and then looking impressive in the pre-tournament warm-up matches they played, there were many who believed that the Sharks could end a six-match losing streak against a Lions side that was starting a new era under coach Swys de Bruin. 

    When flyhalf Robert du Preez jnr went barging over to give the Sharks an early 7-0 lead, things were looking up for the Durbanites. 

    But what followed was a performance that saw them struggle to win their own ball at scrum time, miss too many tackles and dish up numerous handling errors. 

    With the Lions not at their best, this was the perfect opportunity for the Sharks to make a statement at the beginning of the season. 

    Despite being off the boil for much of the match, the visitors managed to hold and they produced a fighting effort in the last 10-15 minutes. 

    Up until the very end of the contest it looked like the Sharks might rescue the match, but they were met by a stern Lions defence in the closing stages.

    "It’s never good to lose, especially if you have created such a lot of opportunities. It’s a tough one," coach Robert du Preez said after the match.

    "It's execution … you create opportunities and then you don’t execute.

    "We lacked patience at crucial times. I’m not happy with that."

    With a bye coming up this weekend, the Sharks must use their time off to rectify the scrums. That was certainly the most concerning aspect of their performance on Saturday, having lost six of their own put-ins. 

    Scrummaging was also the main issue in their 33-21 loss to Western Province in October's Currie Cup final, and it is an area they must fix if they are to challenge in Super Rugby this year. 

    The decision to back Thomas du Toit at tighthead stood out on Saturday, but Du Preez is not going to backtrack after one match.

    There was no consistency," he said.

    "I think after the first scrum we really battled to get back into it and regain our composure. It’s always tough if your pack is going back like that.

    "He (Du Toit) needs time. There are going to be obstacles along the way, but he’s only going to get better."

    The Sharks have now lost seven in a row against the Lions - Du Preez has been in charge for four of those - but all is not lost.

    "The positives are that we didn’t play well but we were in it to the last minute," Du Preez said.

    "We could have pulled it out of the fire and we created a few opportunities."

    The Sharks are next in action when they host the Waratahs on March 3.

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