JP try gave Sharks confidence – Gold

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The 32-15 victory enabled the Sharks to creep up to one point behind the Lions in their Super Rugby Africa Conference 2, albeit having played one game more.

The Hurricanes were the best team in the first half, dominating possession, but the Sharks defended doggedly, restricting them to one try, before they hit back just before half-time with a superb team move finished off by wing JP Pietersen.

For Gold, that try “gave us confidence that all our first-half defence wasn’t in vain”. Pietersen then made the most of a stray Hurricanes pass to pick up his second in a breakaway and from then on the Sharks were rampant with further tries by Michael Claassen and Dan du Preez.

“I was really happy with our performance in general and our game management in particular,” said Gold, “especially because of the quality of the opposition.”

An essential ingredient in any good performance is the set piece. Here the Sharks were outstanding, both in the lineout through Stephen Lewies in particular, and in the scrums which never took a step back and often disrupted the Hurricanes put-in. “You need a stable base if you want to play, and we certainly had that today,” Gold said.

Although the Sharks didn’t have much ball in the first half, they tried to hurt the Hurricanes with turnover ball, including one disallowed try because of a forward pass. For Gold, the elusive balance between attack and defence hasn’t quite “clicked” yet, but he was pleased with the improvement the side showed in this respect, particularly in the second half.

“We relied on good teamwork, but also on moments of individual brilliance in which some of the guys executed very well. Overall, we’re getting better, but we’re still a long way from the finished product,” Gold said.

One of the major improvements in the Sharks team has been the contribution of flanker Keegan Daniel whose pace to the breakdown has contributed to an improved supply of ball, while his experience has helped to mould the raw talents of the Du Preez brothers, Jean-Luc and Dan. It was no wonder that Daniel was made man of the match, although Gold said he was glad he hadn't had to make the choice.

One heart in mouth moment was when flyhalf Garth April was substituted with half-an-hour to go, seconds after converting Du Preez's try. The elusive, fleet-footed pivot had enjoyed another fine match, and some must have wondered whether Lambie had been brought on too early.

“We made the change with a heavy heart,” acknowledged Gold, “but we wanted Patrick to get 30 minutes of action. Garth had been absolutely outstanding again, but you’ve got to look at the bigger picture in which we’re looking to have faith in 28 or 29 players, not just the run-on team. As it turned out the standard didn’t drop when Patrick came on. I thought he played really well given that he’d been out for so long.”

Gold said that the Sharks would take a squad of 25 to Argentina on Wednesday morning, prior to their next game against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

“This is a week where we have to stay grounded,” he cautioned. “If we think the Jaguares are going to be easy, we’ve got another think coming. “They’re an improving team. They’re very passionate and very physical and they’re boosted by their volatile, partisan support.

“In many ways we’re in uncharted waters in terms of how we’ll handle all the travel (12 000km from Australasia and now another 8 000km to Argentina). We’ll use whatever science can give us, but most of all we need rest and the guys must be humble and realise the extent of the onslaught that will be coming our way on Saturday.” - Cape Times

Original source: JP try gave Sharks confidence - Gold

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