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Ken Borland

Sharks passed their test of determination & effort, but failed in execution & taking chances

Posted on June 24, 2022 by Ken

Not for the first time this season, the Sharks passed their test in terms of determination and effort, but failed when it came to execution and taking chances, their 24-21 defeat at the hands of Ulster allowing the Bulls to overtake them on the final United Rugby Championship log and snatch a home quarterfinal.

And, with the Sharks finishing fifth and the Bulls’ fourth, it means the KwaZulu-Natalians will have to travel to Pretoria to take on the Currie Cup champions at Loftus Versfeld on the weekend of June 4 to try and keep their URC hopes alive.

Given what was at stake in Belfast, it was a poor display by the Sharks. Soft defensive moments cost them in the first half as Ulster rattled up a 17-0 lead, and then, although they dominated most of the second half, the Sharks were not accurate enough to turn that into tries. Until the last five minutes, when they scored twice to lend respectability to the scoreline.

“The guys played with a lot of energy, they played their hearts out and I’m very proud of the guys for the courage they showed,” coach Sean Everitt said. “The way they fought back justifies that.

“But our first half was not great, our defence was not sharp enough and we gave Ulster two tries they really did not have to work for.

“The second half was a different story and we had opportunities. We played some really good rugby to get into good positions. But unfortunately we lost the breakdown battle, Ulster put a lot of pressure on us there and they defended really well.

“But we played some of the best ball-in-hand rugby we’ve produced this season, we had good territory and field position, and credit to the bench for the huge impact they made,” Everitt said.

It was always going to be a tough test playing one of the Irish powerhouses away, and the Sharks now need to find a way to win at Loftus Versfeld, where they have not enjoyed a good time in recent knockout matches.

“Coming to the Kingspan Stadium was tough, it’s not an easy ground to play at. Ulster are a big and physical side.

“Big lessons were learned, but we are still very disappointed, it was a game that got away from us. We could have … ,“ Everitt mused without finishing his sentence.

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