Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Sharks set to rebuild after poor season comes to an end

The Sharks now have to go back to the drawing board as they welcome a new dawn under former coach John Plumtree.

The Sharks are set to rebuild after a desperately poor season came to a predictable end when they were dumped out of the United Rugby Championship (URC) at the quarterfinal stage by Leinster in Dublin on Saturday night.

Although the Sharks were missing a number of high profile players for the match due to injury, Leinster themselves put out a weakened team, with an eye on their Champions Cup final appearance in a few weeks’ time.

ALSO READ: Leinster v Sharks – Stars and flops of the URC quarterfinal

It was thus a stark reminder of the difference between the two sides that Leinster didn’t look at their best, but still cruised to a 35-5 win, despite struggling at the set pieces during the opening 60 minutes.

The Sharks had gotten off to a flying start in the match with an early try to scrumhalf Grant Williams, but a yellow card to winger Makazole Mapimpi as Leinster crashed over for their first score, opened the floodgates and allowed the hosts to take full control of the game.

“We knew it was going to be a tough challenge playing Leinster at home. They are a quality side. So for us it was a very frustrating game,” admitted Sharks stand-in skipper Lukhanyo Am.

“We got a yellow card early in the game and they managed to capitalise on that. From there we had scoreboard pressure on us and had to chase the game which is incredibly difficult against them.

“There were a few good individual performances and early on we managed to put them under pressure. We were also good at the set piece but we didn’t capitalise on that.”

Back to drawing board

The Sharks now have to go back to the drawing board and they will welcome a new dawn under former coach John Plumtree, who has returned to the union over a decade after leaving them.

They will also have to bring in some new blood, with the loss of Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, who moves to Racing 92 in France, and prop Thomas d Toit who heads to Bath in England.

“We need to build from this season. We are losing a couple of crucial players in the squad which is always tough. But we will learn a lot from this season and try and build back up from here,” said Am.