Sharks gaining momentum as they beat Lions in the URC
“At times we were really good, we definitely respected the ball a lot more and asked questions of the opposition defence. Getting through phases was definitely one of our work-ons.”
Rynhardt Jonker of the Emirates Lions looks to tackle Rohan Janse van Rensburg of the Cell C Sharks during the United Rugby Championship match between Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions at Hollywoodbets Kings Park Stadium on December 23, 2022 in Durban, South Africa. Picture: Mandatory Credit Steve Haag/Gallo Images
If we think of the Sharks team as being a motor vehicle then the car’s most definitely back on the road and starting to gain speed in the fast lane, following their 37-10 victory over the Lions in their United Rugby Championship derby at Kings Park.
That’s not to say the Sharks did not have spluttering moments. They raced into an early 12-0 lead but then did not score another point in nearly half-an-hour, as the Lions were only down 10-15 as the hour-mark loomed. But the home team then put their foot down in the final quarter and roared away to a five-try, bonus point victory.
Sevens legend Frankie Horne once said that Neil Powell took the Blitzboks car for performance enhancements after previous national coach Paul Treu built the car, and Powell seems to be having a similar effect as director of rugby at the Sharks. They have now won four matches in a row since he took over the head coaching duties, and they played some great rugby against the Lions, their ball-retention and direct attacking style being superb at times.
“We’re obviously always pushing for the perfect game and we had glimpses this evening, but unfortunately we couldn’t keep it up for 80 minutes,” Powell said after the win which lifted the Sharks to sixth on the URC log, but with at least one game in hand over all the teams above them.
“The first 15-20 minutes were exhilarating, but then a couple of soft moments let the Lions back in. Once you give away momentum, it’s difficult to get back.
“But it was another step in the right direction and we know where we can improve. But it’s been great to see the improvement over the last four games, especially the effort in defence.
“At times we were really good, we definitely respected the ball a lot more and asked questions of the opposition defence. Getting through phases was definitely one of our work-ons,” Powell said.
The things Powell said the Sharks could improve on were the stupid mistakes just as they had seized control of the match and being even more patient on attack.
“There were three individual errors after we went 12-0 up and at times the players went out of the structure,” Powell said.
“We can also be a lot more patient on attack inside the 22, it feels as if we’re almost rushing ourselves.
“But we managed the game well in general and only conceded one try. We’re starting to believe that we can be successful in the URC and the EPCR,” Powell said.