Have Sharks turned the corner?

    2016-05-09 10:21

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - The Sharks, after delivering their best performance of the season against the Hurricanes on Saturday, are a side rejuvenated. 

    It was a fantastic weekend for Gary Gold's men, especially after the Bulls went down to the Brumbies on Friday. 

    It means that Sharks have got themselves back into playoff contention, if not through winning their conference, then through claiming the wildcard position in the South African group. 

    But perhaps most pleasing for the Sharks was their all-round performance in their 32-15 win over a Hurricanes side that, just a week earlier, had put 50 points past the Lions in Johannesburg.

    The Sharks relied almost solely on a massive defensive effort to keep them in the game in the first half, and when JP Pietersen scored a try out of nothing just before the break the Sharks had somehow leveled matters at 8-8. 

    The performance that followed in the second period was the best we have seen from the Durbanites all season. 

    The defence remained as solid as ever, while the set piece began functioning like clockwork as forwards and backs linked up to provide the attacking brand rugby that King's Park had been waiting for. 

    Gold agreed that it was probably the best his side had performed in 2016.

    "I think it was a very good performance, mostly because of the quality of the opposition who I thought were equally good today," he said.

    "They asked a lot of questions with ball in hand. They'll feel like they didn't convert a couple of opportunities but we're really happy with our game management and what our plan was this week against them."

    Gold praised his side's defensive efforts in the first half, and acknowledged that the Sharks were second best in that period.

    "I think the Hurricanes were definitely the best team in that first half, certainly for 35 minutes of that first half," he said.

    "For us to get that try (before half time) gave us a bit of confidence that all our defence wasn't in vein at that stage."

    Keegan Daniel was immense for the Sharks - making more metres with ball in hand (106) than any other player on the pitch.

    "He was very good tonight. Obviously he's a stalwart and he brings a huge amount of experience in these big games," Gold said.

    "He's a calm head. He brings a lot of support to the likes of Beast (Mtawarira) and Patrick (Lambie) and the leaders in the team. I thought he was outstanding tonight. 

    "But I'm glad I didn't have to choose the man of the match award. I thought the Du Preez brothers (Jean-Luc and Daniel) were outstanding tonight ... they were next level.

    "I thought Garth (April) was exceptional. Andre (Esterhuizen) must have made comfortably 20 tackles tonight ... it was a good team effort."

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