Sharks coach Robert du Preez said his team are still very much in Super Rugby contention despite the loss to the Bulls in Pretoria at the weekend, with opposite number John Mitchell agreeing that the South African Conference will go right down to the wire.
“It’s all good, we are still very much in the race and there’s still all to play for. I have to commend the team for the comeback after a deficit of 16 points, they showed massive fighting spirit and they are a great team that will go a long way. Especially the pack.
“It was a typical South African derby and they were really physical and dominant, the intensity was there. We were right in it until the end, but we battled to get into shape at times, we threw one-off passes too quickly and we couldn’t get our structure going on attack. The first half wasn’t great and I wasn’t happy with that,” Du Preez said.
The bonus point the Sharks gained at the death through a Robert du Preez jr penalty lifted them to 24 points on the log, the same as the Bulls, but because they have won just four games and the Pretoria side five, the KwaZulu-Natalians are fourth in the standings.
The Bulls have drawn level on points with the Jaguares, who they visit this weekend.
“This conference is going to go down to the wire and the teams are going to be smashing each other over the next month, we will probably see a lot of injuries,” Mitchell said.
The Bulls won despite conceding twice as many penalties as the Sharks, and Mitchell said that will be something they will look into in their review of the game.
“The penalties come from the way we defend, we don’t want to be back on our heels, we want to be strong around the edges and come hard at the opposition. We probably need to look at maybe leaving more of a gap and all referees have their own idiosyncrasies around offsides. But we had to stop their momentum, they’re extremely good at offloads and we got them to the floor the majority of the time,” Mitchell said.