Even though the Sharks have had the schedule from hell, they will go into the June international break still very much in the playoff mix following their 53-0 romp over the Southern Kings in Durban at the weekend, much to the delight of coach Gary Gold.
The Sharks are second in Africa Conference 2, just two points behind the Lions, and third in the Group, three points ahead of the Stormers, although they have played one more game than the three other top local sides and have a bye this coming weekend.
“I’m very satisfied and particularly pleased tonight that we got the bonus point and kept the opposition to zero. We knew the last six weeks would be tough, playing on three different continents in three weeks, but I’m really happy with the attitude of the players and how they’ve dealt with all the travel. It has been tough and it’s taken its toll, but to be as competitive as we have been, especially against the New Zealand sides, is very pleasing.
“The guys have shown a lot of character and now they have a bit of downtime. We can fix the guys that are broken and hopefully get some big names back. It’s good that we can try and keep our noses ahead rather than play catch-up,” Gold said.
The Sharks played some tremendous rugby in the first half against the Kings, getting the ball wide and scoring six tries, including three in a dazzling five-minute spell midway through the half. But they went off the boil in the second half and Gold said one of the things that still concern him is the team’s tendency to waste chances.
“We had a very specific plan at the start, you never want to get into an arm-wrestle against a side as courageous as the Kings, and we controlled things nicely in the first half and took our chances. Not so much in the second half, maybe there were too many changes, but it was a bit disappointing. The Kings are a never-say-die side, especially in the contact situations, and we lost a lot of ball.
“We didn’t take our chances as clinically and the lineout didn’t function as well. We need to step up, we are not the finished product, there are simple options not being taken. We tend to over-complicate things, if we take the simple options we will score more tries,” Gold said.