The Sharks’ encounter against the Waratahs this past weekend has been overshadowed by a number of questionable decisions made by the match officials, but the coastal franchise can ill-afford to dwell on what could have been.
Yet another narrow loss will be hard to handle for the Sharks, with referee Paul Marks failing to award what would have been a match-winning try, while the third match official saw fit to give the Waratahs the thumbs up for a dubious try just before half-time.
Marks also called the Sharks back for a marginal forward pass in a movement that would quite possibly have ended in a five-pointer, and also blew up prop Jannie du Plessis for obstruction when the visitors were about to begin a driving maul from just metres out during the final minutes of the match.
Nevertheless, the Sharks produced a much-improved performance in that second half, and will need to continue in that vain when they come up against the Brumbies this Saturday.
Loose-forward Willem Alberts said there were certainly various aspects of the game to be pleased about, but also a number of areas to improve on.
“I thought we were very unlucky to lose to the Waratahs, but we showed an upwards curve in our game,” he commented on the Sharks website. “We played some good rugby at times and we just need to improve, to keep getting better. Admittedly, we made too many mistakes and we also need to play with more discipline.”
After four losses this season, the Sharks continue to flounder near the bottom of the log, with their play-off ambitions seemingly dashed before the competition has even neared the halfway mark.
However, they will undoubtedly be just focusing on each game as it comes, and Alberts stressed that the Brumbies would certainly present a considerable challenge.
“They are a well-balanced team with a good front row. They like to play off [Matt] Giteau and have a good backline with the likes of Stirling Mortlock and Adam Ashley-Cooper, so we need to be precise in what we want to achieve. We need to stick to our structures and game plan and we need to take control of the game.
“To do that we need to make sure our discipline is correct and work on a few individual mistakes. But we will keep on doing the hard work and will try our best every minute.”
Meanwhile, on the whole, it was a pretty good weekend for South African teams, with the Cheetahs and Stormers recording impressive wins over the Hurricanes and Highlanders respectively, while the Lions put up a fight against the Brumbies.
The Bulls enjoyed a bye but still remain top of the log. — Sapa