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Ken Borland


Advisable not to watch Sharks at the moment; ugly win over Ospreys

Posted on March 29, 2023 by Ken

It’s probably advisable not to watch the Sharks play rugby at the moment because it’s a bit like watching someone struggle with a serious illness in hospital; their latest display being an ugly 25-10 win over the Ospreys at Kings Park in which they scored 14 points in the last three minutes.

The sacking of head coach Sean Everitt was not the instant panacea some people expected it would be, as the Sharks were still severely lacking in polish, error-ridden in the red zone and disorganised on attack. The fact that they were only leading by one point at home after 76 minutes against a side that had won just one of their previous eight matches says it all.

Of greatest concern was the number of basic errors they made, far too many to be considered serious contenders for any silverware.

That the Sharks had more than enough chances to put the Ospreys away was thanks to the utter dominance of their scrum and their excellent defence leading to several turnovers at the breakdown.

And yet, despite enjoying 60% of possession and territory in the first half, they could only lead 6-0 at the break through two Curwin Bosch penalties. The flyhalf was playing his first URC game of the season after a fractured arm in pre-season, and showed enough glimpses of class to suggest the Sharks should persevere with him in the No.10 jersey.

The Sharks were then rocked soon after the break when Ospreys scored a try of genuine quality. Eighthman Morgan Morris and prop Rhys Henry burst clear from a lineout inside their own half, and then there was great work down the short side by the forwards, leading to scrumhalf Matthew Aubrey being stopped just short of the line by a great Bosch tackle. The ball was recycled though and flyhalf Jack Walsh put in an excellent crosskick for wing Luke Morgan to score.

The Sharks did at least provide a prim and proper response as flank Sikhumbuzo Notshe turned over possession from the restart and then scored from close range after a maul.

Despite their dominance, the Sharks were left with a really nervous finish as the replacement front row conceded a scrum penalty and Morris forced his way between two poor tackles on the tryline to score and close the gap to just one point again with 13 minutes remaining.

The Sharks did at least finish strongly, sealing the win in the 77th minute as Bosch ran around to find a hole in the defence and score after the forwards had bashed away at close range against a stout Ospreys defence. Replacement flank James Venter then added some gravy as he forced his way over for a try.

But there was little for director of rugby and new head coach Neil Powell to feel comfortable about.

Scorers

SharksTries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Curwin Bosch, James Venter. Conversions: Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (2).

OspreysTries: Luke Morgan, Morgan Morris.

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