‘Luck and character’ drive Sharks’ success

2009-03-03 00:00

SHARKS captain Johann Muller admits that a combination of luck and character were the driving forces behind his team’s Super 14 win over the Chiefs in Hamilton last Saturday night.

“I think, if we look back now, we probably used our fair share of luck in that game,” he says.

“They were over the tryline a few times without reward. We also didn’t have a lot of possession, but you can’t take away the character that was shown in the last 10 minutes.

“And not only that, but the whole game, the amount of scrambling that went on in defence was outstanding. If you have a team that’s willing to give whatever it takes in defence, you’re going to go a long way in this tournament.”

After three wins and in the top four on the log, the Sharks are certainly doing something right, although Muller does admit that his team have some work to do to make sure they do not have to spend so much time and effort defending. The Blues will certainly offer a stern challenge and if the Sharks are to make it four from four, they will have to make sure they play on the front foot for longer periods of the match.

“We made over 300 tackles in the match. That’s really high and probably disappointing for us. You don’t want to have make so many tackles in a game. We want to do more attacking and we have to make sure we get more possession for our backs to play.

“Physically, it takes a lot out of you when you have to put your body on the line.”

Muller said that the heat and humidity in Durban took more out of them against the Lions the previous week, but they certainly did not come out of the Chiefs match unscathed.

“You could see it on Sunday and Monday, the guys were really sore. Tackling that much takes a lot out of you.”

While there might be the perception that at 22-8 up, the Sharks might have believed the result was in the bag and slipped into defensive mode against the Chiefs towards the latter stages of the match, Muller disagrees.

“I don’t think so at all, we just made some really silly errors — they dropped the kick-off that followed JP Pietersen’s second try — that got us into that situation where they got on the front foot. They are a side who can score tries from anywhere and won’t stop.

“They just keep coming. But there are a few errors that we have to sort out.”

The Blues in Auckland this weekend is the next challenge and, despite their mauling by the Bulls, they came back to beat the Stormers in Cape Town at the weekend and return to New Zealand with a spring in their step.

“They are similar to the Chiefs in that they have some really outstanding individuals who can score tries from 80 and 100 metres out,” said Muller, “so we are going to have to play well … if we want to put them under pressure and beat them.

“It’s a huge challenge for us and although we’ve had some good results over the Blues in the last couple of years, Eden Park is a very difficult place to play rugby.

“If we want to beat them, we have to be at our absolute best.”

Kick-off is 6.30 am (SA time) on Saturday.

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