Sharks Rue Ordinary Offence
There were obvious differences in the demeanour of the winners and losers at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday night following the Golden Lions' defeat of The Sharks in the final Absa Currie Cup match of the first round.
Sharks captain Keegan Daniel explained that, “We had ball possession but didn’t do anything with it – that was the problem.
"Hats off to the Lions, they were converting territory into points, they’re deserved winners. It’s tough enough to get your hands on the ball, but when you do, that’s when you need to keep it and make good use of it.”
The Sharks came out strongly in the second half and outscored the hosts, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.
“In the second half we had a bit more ball but couldn’t convert enough of it into points.”
He agreed that it was an element of both sound defence from the Lions and missing something on attack that hampered their quest for points.
“Defence wins you games, the Lions were outstanding in that area and put us under a lot of pressure. We have to go back and look at a few things and sort those things out for next week.
“It’s never easy coming up here and we always have a great game against the Lions. Also, the laws have changed and Currie Cup rugby is a lot more exciting to watch. It’s a great place to come and play rugby, a lot of Sharks supporters are up here and thanks to them for coming out to support us.”
A smiling Lions captain Cobus Grobbelaar said, “I thought we played a balanced game, the forwards did the hard work and the decision-makers controlled the game well.
“It’s about sticking to the systems, everyone doing their jobs.”
The Lions managed to cause mayhem at the tackle area and won that mini-battle, although the scrums and lineouts were certainly a facet of the game dominated by The Sharks.
“The breakdowns were incisive in this game and in rugby generally,” he said.
“To get quick ball, the opposition defensive lines are less organised so it’s a vital part of the game.”
At the halfway mark, the Lions are now five points clear at the top of the log which Grobbelaar admitted was, “A good position to be in. But there is still room for improvement, we could have played a little more in the second half.”
His coach, John Mitchell felt that, “It was a very committed performance but at times we had a bit of difficulty getting out of our own half. But for most of the game we built pressure and some of our new attacking stuff paid off and the boys dug deep defensively.”
Although the Lions scored just the one try, they were held up short once or twice and Mitchell felt there were scores left on the table.
“I guess it’s still a long way to go in this competition so it’s important that we get better, but I like the way we started the game and that gives the guys confidence.”
The Lions get the second round going with matches against the likes of the Pumas, Leopards and Griquas – the latter have beaten The Sharks and Cheetahs and taken a draw off Western Province and Mitchell pointed out that there would be no underestimating the challenge that lies ahead.
“Those three teams are all very good sides and it’s important that we respect them.”
Admitting that he and Sharks coach John Plumtree would catch up after the game to say “G’day” he concluded: “Plum prepared a very good team and it’s always tough against The Sharks, they came back at us there.”
Currie Cup log:
|1||MTN Golden Lions||7||6||0||1||240||158||82||26||15||3||27|
|2||DHL Western Province||7||4||1||2||201||130||71||17||8||4||22|
|5||Toyota Free State Cheetahs||7||3||0||4||242||166||76||28||16||6||18|
|6||Vodacom Blue Bulls||7||4||0||3||171||188||-17||18||20||1||17|
With thanks to SharksRugby.co.za