Late lapses cost the Sharks victory against the Bulls and the Stormers, and also made their game against the Lions closer than it should have been.
And that is a key area of improvement coach Sean Everitt is looking for when his team travel to Ellis Park on Saturday for their Rainbow Cup encounter with the Gautengers.
And even though the Sharks are resting several Springboks as per the agreement with SA Rugby, Everitt has been able to name a powerful bench – including their first-choice front row – that should be able to have a late impact against the Lions.
Ruben van Heerden and Thembelani Bholi are seasoned forwards now, centre Jeremy Ward is an exciting runner and scrumhalf Grant Williams’ ability to lift the pace is perhaps his greatest attribute.
“When we played the Lions here at Kings Park, we had a lapse in the last 10 minutes, but the game was basically won,” Everitt said.
“Fez Mbatha, Ox Nche and Thomas du Toit can hopefully be a bit of a bomb squad for us in Joburg and we can finish stronger than we have in the last few weeks, so things have worked out nicely in that regard. We’ve had a good break and have been able to work on the aspects that have let us down.”
The impressive coaching methods of Everitt have seen him create a real family atmosphere within the Sharks squad and he has always focused on ensuring the levels of performance are right rather than results.
Now that the Sharks are under pressure to deliver a result against the Lions to keep them contending for the Rainbow Cup final, nothing will change.
“There is pressure to perform in all areas, not just to win,” Everitt said. “In some games our scrum hasn’t functioned and then our scrum will be good but the lineout fails. Results come with performance, ensuring we get those processes right first; performance goes hand-in-hand with results. We are still in the race and we have played good rugby up there recently.
“The conditions suit the exciting brand of rugby we want to play and in the last 18 months we have got the mental aspect of playing on the Highveld right. We know that the Lions have improved a lot over the last four weeks though, since our last game against them, and I am expecting a tough tussle.”
The Sharks have won their last four matches at Ellis Park, dating back to their defeat in the opening game of Super Rugby in 2018.