The pack was poor against the Hurricanes the previous week and there were several big questions hovering as the side approached their third game on tour, not the least of those surrounding their scrumming and their lineouts, while there was also the question of the lack of ball carry in Wellington.
The Sharks came right on all counts in Ballarat, with stand-in skipper Andre Esterhuizen sending out a reminder of just how important he is when it comes to galvanising the forwards and getting them to get drive forward. Apart from Esterhuizen’s try in the first half, he was the go-too man when it came to getting the Sharks across the advantage line and getting the forwards to buzz like bees around him.
Of course, it did make a big difference to have both Ox Nche and Thomas du Toit back in the starting team after last week’s front row had to be adjusted at the last minute due to the virus that ruled Du Toit out of the Westpac Stadium game. They are both good carriers, and that was in evidence on Saturday.
Most of all though it was the set-piece improvement that Everitt was smiling about when he spoke to the South African media from Australia early on Sunday morning.
“We are very happy with the outcome of the day, we improved hugely in the set-piece,” said Everitt.
“The scrumming and the lineout work was way better, and credit must go to the forwards. We said we would fix the problems and we did that. Although it still isn’t perfect as we still lost a few lineouts in the second half.
“We also defended really well against a difficult and physical team. The guys said afterwards it was the most physical game they played in this year so far, so credit must go to the Rebels for what they brought to the game.”
The Sharks’ ability to strike with fearsome potency through their strength at the back that was again most to the fore, and Everitt explained why Makazole Mapimpi, who should have crossed for a hat-trick, passed the ball to Curwin Bosch when he was over the tryline and just needed to dot down for what would have been his third try.
“Makazole gave that try to Curwin because Curwin was celebrating his 50th game. We were very happy with the five tries,” said the coach.
That selfless act may well sum up the Sharks under the coaching of Everitt, they do seem to play for each other and care for each other.
“The energy we play with does show it is a happy team and hopefully we can continue to improve week by week so that we can get home and perform well at Jonnson King’s Park,” concluded Everitt.
It does appear to get more difficult for the Sharks from here. Although they have only won once this season, Brad Thorn’s young Reds side has a good pack of forwards that recently shoved the Lions scrum around in Johannesburg and gave the Jaguares problems in the first half in Buenos Aires.
The Reds lie in wait in Brisbane on Saturday after coming off an impressive 64-5 win over the Sunwolves and like the Sharks, their confidence will be high. More particularly though, the conditions the Sharks are likely to encounter will be more like the stifling sweat inducing humidity they can expect when they get back to Durban for two tough games against the Jaguares and Stormers after this.
Read this story on SuperSport.com