Sharks kick-start Cur­rie Cup with easy win

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MIKE GREENAWAY

A WEEK af­ter the emo­tion of Su­per Rugby at El­lis Park, the week­end’s im­me­di­ate down­scale to a Cur­rie Cup match against the Pu­mas was al­ways go­ing to be a game the Sharks sim­ply wanted to get out of the way be­fore prop­erly fo­cus­ing on the new com­pe­ti­tion.

“It was a tough week from a few points of view but we stuck to it and things will get bet­ter now that the ini­tial tran­si­tion from one com­pe­ti­tion to an­other is out of the way,” coach Robert du Preez ad­mit­ted af­ter his team had gained max­i­mum points in beat­ing the Pu­mas 29-0.

“Com­ing off such a big game (the dis­ap­point­ment of los­ing the quar­ter-fi­nal to the Lions) and then im­me­di­ately hav­ing to play again was tough and there was the re­al­ity we lost seven play­ers (to Europe and Ja­pan), so there were a few new com­bi­na­tions.”

The Sharks have said farewell to lock Eti­enne Oosthuizen, scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and prop Lourens Adri­aanse (all to Europe, and for good), plus Ja­pan­bound flank Philip van der Walt, lock Stephan Lewies, wing Lwazi Mvovo and cen­tre An­dre Ester­huizen (all back for Su­per Rugby next year), and then prop Coe­nie Oosthuizen was not el­i­gi­ble for this game be­cause he is a con­tracted Spring­bok. The same would have ap­plied to Beast Mtawarira and Patrick Lam­bie had they not been in­jured.

Still, the Sharks put to­gether a de­cent side and they will get bet­ter af­ter the dust set­tles on the start to the Cur­rie Cup and the com­pe­ti­tion gains mo­men­tum.

“The first half was not good (3-0 at half time), we made so many er­rors, but the sec­ond half was much bet­ter,” Du Preez said. “I was very pleased with the qual­ity of the four tries we scored, and we kept them out. Keep­ing them try-less was one of our goals. We did not want to let them score, and that hap­pened.”

Du Preez was asked what he said to his play­ers at half time.

With an ironic chuckle he said: “I was very calm! I just told the guys to hang on to the ball and not force the er­rors, and to put phases to­gether. We did that and the tries came.”

The Sharks host Gri­quas on Fri­day night in what will be a sterner chal­lenge than the Pu­mas.

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