How their coach plans to make the Sharks tougher to beat second time round
The Sharks, like the Johannesburg-based Lions, were given a healthy dose of reality in the past week.
Both teams suffered heavy defeats against the British and Irish Lions – the Lions going down 14-56 in the tour opener at Ellis Park this past Saturday and the Sharks losing 7-54 at the same venue on Wednesday.
Both coaches admitted in their post-match reaction that the pace at which the tourists played the game caught them off-guard.
The Sharks get a second crack at the tourists, following confirmation that they are replacing the Bulls in the Saturday slot on the B&I Lions tour roster.
They must show just how well they have adjusted from the midweek schooling when they face off at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt admitted he was ‘disappointed’ in the error rate of some of the individuals in his team in their loss to the B&I Lions.
He added that the Sharks did not ‘respect’ the ball. “At this level, against international players, there will be consequences for the mistakes you make,” Everitt said.
Looking at the rematch with the B&I Lions on Saturday, the coach said the “fundamentals” are very important.
“Ball retention is important for us,” he said.
“We want to play a free-flowing game and that means our breakdown work has to be good.
“We have to be low in our body height and the ball carries, so we don’t get stripped of the ball or held up – which happened on a number of occasions [against the B&I Lions].”
He added that the last two games against the B&I Lions showed the absence of international opposition for the last 15 months meant SA teams are ‘off the pace’ a bit.
“In the domestic competitions we play against each other week in and week out,” Everitt said.
He added that players can still get away with some errors.
“Respect for the ball is really important,” he said, adding: “We need to be more patient and not forcing passes.
“We are not patient enough with the ball in hand. We need to back ourselves to hold it through several phases.
“When we get that right, we will become a really good side and a dangerous side.”
The Sharks were without the services of nine players who are on duty with the Springboks.
However, they were still expected to be tougher opponents – despite the depleted team – than the Johannesburg-based Lions.
Saturday will be an indication of which team took the lessons to heart.
Join RugbyPass+ now and be a part of the conversation with all-new commenting!