DURBAN – Sharks coach Robert du Preez was pleased enough with the four points banked from the encounter with the Force at Kings Park at the weekend but not with a heck of a lot else.
Once again the Sharks failed to score a try-scoring bonus point in their 37-12 win and Du Preez is perturbed that his team is not converting more of the plentiful opportunities created in the opposition 22.
In fact the Sharks are yet to score a try-scoring bonus point this season – the two bonus points that have come their way have been from losing matches by less than seven points.
“I am not at all happy with our conversion rate from ventures into the danger area,” Du Preez said. “The bonus points continue to elude us and how important bonus points will ultimately be is difficult to determine right now. The only thing we can do is carry on winning and building momentum and that should hopefully get us to the play-offs.”
The Africa 2 conference has settled down, with the Lions certain to finish top (currently on 42 points), the Sharks likely to be second (32) and the Jaguares probably third (26), although the Argentineans are certainly not out of yet – they have to keep winning and hope the Sharks lose.
Against the Force, the Sharks crossed the tryline five times but had two tries disallowed by the TMO, and it is not the first time they have lost out on the bonus point this season in this fashion. The match against the Lions at Ellis Park still irks the Sharks – they had two tries disallowed through TMO rulings.
“It was very pleasing to see our forwards dominate again and we are building some nice momentum in this department,” Du Preez said. “In general we played some really good rugby at times but our patience let us down on attack. Our defence was really good and our discipline was excellent.
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“I just wish we could convert more chances into tries. We are working very hard on this area but individual errors continue to thwart us,” he said. “The Force are a difficult side to play against, their defence is their strong point and you have to work very hard for tries. We did the hard work but did not finish off.”
The young centre combination of Jeremy Ward and Lukhanyo Am had its moments and there is a lot of potential in the Eastern Cape duo gelling during the long suspension of Andre Esterhuizen. Also, wing Sbu Nkosi had a promising debut.
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“Sbu impressed us in the pre-season and had a very good game. He is a very dedicated youngster and has explosive pace. He has been on the fringes and impressed in pre-season, and we wanted to give him a shot. It is a pity his try was disallowed because he showed great finishing. His work rate was phenomenal. We also have Lwazi Mvovo and Odwa Ndungane, so it is a nice selection problem to have.”
A highlight for the Sharks was the magnificent try scored by Curwin Bosch after nifty footwork by a number of players down the touchline.
“The problem is that when we score those type of tries, they seem to always end up with the TMO being called into action. So we were thrilled to get that one,” Du Preez smiled.
Bosch was replaced by Patrick Lambie after that try and he calmly went about his business in the final quarter.
“Was I impressed with Pat? I am always impressed when he is on the field,” Du Preez laughed, alluding to Lambie’s injury history.
This week Lambie will have a much greater role to play in the visit to the Kings in Port Elizabeth, a game the Sharks will do well to not take lightly.
“There is no chance of complacency,” Du Preez promised. “They are waiting for us. They are already talking up a storm about this game. We will be ready.”
Meanwhile, the Sharks XV beat the Griffons 52-24 in a SuperSport Rugby Challenge match in Welkom at the weekend. The Durbanites scored eight tries, with fullback Garth April scoring a brace and landing four conversions for a personal tally of 18 points.