DURBAN – Life is rosy in the Shark Tank after two unbeaten rounds of Super Rugby but assistant coach Jaco Pienaar cautions that the competition is a marathon, not a sprint, and that continued growth is the focus for the Sharks.
“We are feeling great. We are happy with where we are but there is plenty of room for improvement and that is what we will be trying to do this week against the Stormers” (at Kings Park on Saturday, 5.15pm kick-off).
So far this season, the Sharks have been impressive for one and a half games of rugby – the Sunwolves game and the first half against the Blues. The way the Sharks fell away in the second half against the Blues is surely cause for concern, even if it is fact that the Blues fought back bravely.
The losing of concentration in the second half of games is nothing new to the Sharks. They have been dogged by this problem for years, and they would do well to note how well the Stormers played in the second half of their match against the Lions at the weekend after the visiting Lions had dominated the first half.
If the Sharks want to develop into serious championship contenders, they need to learn how to close out games. At the weekend, the Blues should have been put away by half time but were kept in the game by the Sharks’ lack of killer instinct.
And the Stormers are highly unlikely to disappear in the second half on Saturday. They will be coming to Kings Park on a mission.
Of the Sharks’ falling away after half time against the Blues, Pienaar said: “It is about the players’ understanding what we are trying to and executing the plan for the full 80 minutes.”
The reassuring thing for the Sharks is that they are laying the platform for winning games by dominating up front, and for that Pienaar as forwards coach should take a bow.
The Sharks backs have scored some sensational tries from the space provided by a pack in the ascendency.
“Rugby will always stay the same .When the platform is laid up front by the forwards, the backs have the opportunity to shine. So far, our backs have been getting quality ball and they have done well with it,” Pienaar said.
“One of our focuses at the Sharks is being powerful on all fronts,” Pienaar continued. “I think we have that with our dominant pack and the backs are also pretty powerful. We have shown that with good ball from the forwards, we can score from anywhere.
But then the same thing for the Stormers. They have a Springbok pack and plenty of gamebreakers at the back. This makes the forward battle all the more significant.”