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Sharks hone in on European glory

Neil Powell says winning Friday night’s EPCR Challenge Cup final against Gloucester will be a 'crucial' step forward for the Sharks after a torrid Vodacom URC season. Dylan Jack reports.

The Sharks have the opportunity to end a rollercoaster season on a high with some silverware when they face Gloucester at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London.

As an added bonus, winning the Challenge Cup will see the Sharks automatically qualify for next season’s Champions Cup, after a difficult URC season where they have been ruled out of the race for the top eight.

Having won just two of their first nine games in all competitions this season, the Sharks go into the clash on a run of six wins in their most recent nine games.

It has been an excellent turnaround and one that bodes well for next season, especially if Powell’s side goes on to lift the trophy on Friday night.

“It’s a crucial game for us, but more for us as a coaching team and as a squad,” Powell said.

“I think all the hard work that’s been put in over the past eight to nine months since the start of the URC season, I think it’s important to get that reward and give the players and the coaching staff some sort of reward in this final.

“We can sit and hope that we will be successful on Friday night, but the guys know that they have to go out there and make it happen,” Powell added. “There’s no team that will just let you run over them and give you success. If you want to be successful, you’ll have to go out there and really play well, especially in the final – and be very disciplined.

“For the players, coaching team and for the fans back in Durban as well, I think it will be a great reward for all the hard work that’s been put in over the last year. Just a bit of a pat on the back and almost like a bit of motivation and confidence to start the next season, hopefully, on a better note.”

Should they come out victorious, the Sharks would make history by by becoming the first South African team to win a European trophy.

“It’s always great to make a bit of history,” Powell said.

“The biggest motivation for us is coming from internally. What we want to achieve and where we want to go, not just on Friday night, but after that in the next year or two as well.

“But it is good to have an external motivation like the one that we can be the first South African team to be successful and win a European trophy.”

The post Sharks hone in on European glory appeared first on SA Rugby magazine.

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